Louisiana expands MedicaidNews added by Benefits Pro on January 14, 2016

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By Jack Craver

Another big win for Obamacare comes out of the Deep South, where newly-elected Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards just signed an executive order to dramatically expand Medicaid in the Bayou State.

“We are consistently ranked one of the poorest and unhealthiest states, and this cycle will not be broken as long as anyone in Louisiana has to choose between their health and their financial security,” Edwards said before signing the order, according to the New York Times.

Edwards claims that roughly 300,000 Louisianans will be able to sign up for Medicaid now that the state has raised the income eligibility threshold to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. In return for raising the threshold, the state will receive a major infusion of federal dollars to pay for the new enrollees’ care.

Edwards, a Democrat, made Medicaid expansion a central plank of his platform during his fall campaign for the governorship. His victory over a Republican opponent was heralded by Democrats as evidence that the party could make the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act a winning issue even in conservative parts of the country.

Although the Louisiana legislature is still run by Republicans, Edwards can make the change without its legislative approval.

But it’s not just Democrats winning on this issue that warms the hearts of progressives. A number of Republican governors and legislatures have come around to Medicaid expansion after initially rejecting the offer from the federal government when PPACA was first implemented a little more than two years ago.

A number of Republican-run states have accepted the Medicaid expansion in exchange for federal waivers that allow them to impose slightly different rules on Medicaid beneficiaries, including increased cost-sharing.

As a result, 31 states and the District of Columbia now have some form of expanded Medicaid.

In at least three other states, the GOP is engaged in an intra-party debate over whether to expand. The Republican governors of South Dakota and Wyoming are pushing for expansion but meeting resistance from GOP-controlled legislatures, while in Nebraska, it is the GOP-dominated legislature that is trying to convince the Republican governor to implement a federally-funded “private option” similar to that of Arkansas.

Originally posted on BenefitsPro.com
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