Readers of The Advocate were not surprised to read your op-ed calling for Medicaid expansion in Louisiana (Lessons of savings, Dec. 13); your position on this subject is well-known. However, what was shocking was the fact that you are still pushing this concept with Louisiana facing a budget crisis with the collapse of oil prices.
The headline report on page 1 of that same issue was “Oil Prices still hurting budget” and Mark Ballard’s editorial did an excellent job in discussing how collapsing oil prices were adding to Louisiana’s already monumentally large shortfall ($1.4 billion) in revenues. For every $1 drop in the price of oil, the state loses $12 million. With oil prices down 45 percent, the state now will be losing another $432 million of revenue. This is rapidly becoming a fiscal crisis! How can Louisiana even contemplate increasing its Medicaid costs?
It is projected that Louisiana will have to pay $170 million more per year if it elects to expand Medicare. President Barack Obama has promised that the federal government will pay 90 percent of the cost — just like he promised we could keep our doctors and our insurance if we liked them. Where is that $170 million going to come from? Even more chilling, what if Obama lied to us and the feds want us to pay more than 10 percent? The feds have already changed the rules on us once, which is why we are paying 33 percent of the Medicaid tab today. Quin Hillyer wrote and excellent column about this very subject (Don’t fall for Obamacare’s Medicaid bait, April 20); I highly encourage you to read it.
Furthermore, why would we want to expand a broken system? John Kennedy, state treasurer, wrote an editorial in June titled “Louisiana Taxpayers Must Demand Medicaid Be Fixed” and discusses how Louisiana pays 33 percent of the Medicaid tab for 1.4 million residents (25 percent of the state’s residents) at a cost of $8 billion per year and that the CBO projects that the cost will increase to $13 billion by 2020. If the CBO is correct, increases in Louisiana Medicaid spending will crowd out funding for universities, roads, coastal restoration and economic development. Kennedy then opines that, “Medicaid as we know it is dysfunctional. ... it does not lead to better health outcomes ... 40 percent of our physicians are not accepting new Medicaid patients. America and Louisiana need to fix Medicaid.”
Proper fiscal budgeting would dictate that Louisiana needs to fix its current Medicaid program, not expand it.