Eight months ago, the League of Women Voters of Louisiana sent a letter to Gov. Bobby Jindal, all the state legislators, the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) and the Department of Insurance regarding our concerns related to the health-care delivery changes and the lack of support regarding Medicaid expansion. Medicaid expansion will provide at least 400,000 Louisiana residents with health insurance and save the state millions of dollars. DHH no longer denies the numbers.

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s claim that federal Medicaid regulations are too cumbersome is weakened, as more states receive permission to experiment with different models. Bayou Health contracts and other private health-care agreements have strategically dismantled Louisiana’s public Medicaid programs and operations.

Federal Medicaid money used to privatize the state’s health-care systems is being questioned. If Medicaid expansion is not accepted soon, large employers face penalties and access to the insurance exchange will be limited. Hospitals and physicians will incur financial risk for uncompensated care and lose $1.8 billion in business activity. Also, 15,600 newly created jobs may be lost, and federal funding will go to other states. And more importantly, adults between 19 and 24 years old, who typically work will remain without access to health insurance. The state can always opt out of Medicaid expansion but it must first opt in. The League of Women Voters of Louisiana urges the legislators to support and vote for Medicaid expansion.

Sandra Slifer, president

League of Women Voters of Louisiana