New Democratic Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is justifiably taking a victory lap after 204,000 people have signed up for the expanded Medicaid he enacted, since June 1—yes, just this month. He sees an upcoming trend.
BATON ROUGE, La.—If Hillary Clinton and the Democrats win the November elections, four or five more Southern states will expand their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act next year, Louisiana's new Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards said Tuesday.
“If it becomes obvious the Affordable Care Act won't be repealed, a number of states will opt into the expansion fairly quickly,” he said.
Edwards said his executive order in January to extend Medicaid to low-income adults was “the easiest big decision I'll ever make” given the state's large uninsured population, poor health status, budget problems and the burden of uncompensated care on healthcare providers.
Coverage starts for all these people on July 1. The state has a goal of 350,000 new enrollees, and they are certainly off to a good start. They achieved those numbers by automatically enrolling people in other state health programs and doing outreach to the state's food stamp recipients. This had to happen without any additional funding from the state—no new employees or any new tools. So they used the existing infrastructure of those programs, and that meant they could show how affordable the expansion was for the state.
Edwards said he was helped politically by the fact that he won his election handily after he made Medicaid expansion a focus of his campaign.
That, and the early, cheap success of the program could help "to win passage of a health insurance premium tax that would raise $187 million for the next fiscal year to pay the state's nine public-private safety net hospitals for treating the poor and offering graduate medical education."
His success, and the fact that Obamacare is going to be here to stay for a long time, should be plenty of incentive for elected Democrats in the hold-out states to keep fighting for it—and for Republican governors to just give up the fight already.