When Louisiana in 2016 joined the majority of states expanding Medicaid insurance coverage for the working poor, it turned out to be a good move for the state's people and for its general fund, as almost all of the costs are picked up under the much-debated Obamacare law of 2010.
Other "red" states politically are starting to take notice, and they don't get much redder than Idaho.
In advance of Tuesday's election, Republican Gov. Butch Otter endorsed a ballot initiative that would expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. It won.
The measure's supporters said it would provide coverage for those making too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to qualify for subsidized health insurance through the state insurance exchange set up under provision of the Affordable Care Act.
Idaho was not alone.
Voters in Nebraska and Utah also opted to expand Medicaid, a central tenet of Obamacare. In Montana, voters rejected a ballot measure that would have extended the state's expansion and funded it with an increase in cigarette taxes, so it was not a clean sweep for the ACA.
Other states' decisions, like that of Louisiana, may depend on governor's races where Democrats made gains. Until Tuesday, 17 of the 50 states did not expand Medicaid.
Louisiana was a laggard, purely because of politics: Republican legislators and then-Gov. Bobby Jindal were adamant opponents of anything with the name of then-President Barack Obama on it.
The election of Gov. John Bel Edwards broke a logjam and made the expanded coverage available to thousands of families that need it in the Bayou State.
The number of adults in Louisiana without health insurance has dropped dramatically since the state expanded Medicaid two years ago, a new report has found.
The Louisiana Health Insurance Survey is performed every two years by researchers at LSU. It found 11.4 percent of non-elderly adults in the state did not have health insurance in 2017 — down from 22.7 percent uninsured in 2015.
Under Medicaid expansion, which took effect July 2016 under Edwards' executive order, more than 487,000 non-elderly adults have received health care coverage, the survey reported.
Since 2010, nearly 90 rural hospitals across the nation have shut their doors, reported The New York Times recently. In Louisiana, rural hospitals are healthier, as working families in poorer parishes now have reliable insurance coverage under Medicaid expansion.
It's a good deal for the state's general fund because most of the costs are covered by the U.S. Treasury and a hospital fee. Those are still costs, of course, but we believe the benefits vastly outweigh the burden.
A healthier population is the goal that should be kept in mind. We don't know how many states will now follow suit, but it's a good bet that the benefits found in our state will be persuasive elsewhere.