Edwards signs Executive Order to provide health care for working families

State News Report
Gov. John Bel Edwards on the steps of the State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Jan. 11, for his inauguration, when the Medicaid expansion announcement was made.

BATON ROUGE – Today, Governor John Bel Edwards signed an Executive Order, his first since being sworn in on Monday, January 11th, directing the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) to begin the process of accepting the federal funds necessary to expand Medicaid for working families throughout the state.

“Louisiana’s tax dollars should not be going to the 30 other states that have expanded Medicaid when working families here at home need access to health care,” said Gov. Edwards. “I made a promise to the people of Louisiana that I was going to accept our tax dollars back into our state, and I am following through on that commitment. It won’t be immediate, but today we begin the process, and I look forward to working with our federal partners to ensure this is realized in the most efficient way possible.”

More than 350,000 Louisianans stand to benefit from Medicaid expansion, which is set to begin by July 1, 2016. Uninsured adults who have income at or below 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) are eligible for Medicaid coverage under expansion. An individual adult earning the current Federal Poverty Level earns $16,242 a year.

In addition, newly-appointed Secretary of DHH Dr. Rebekah Gee has secured more than $3 million in pledges from outside sources to assist with the implementation of Medicaid expansion in Louisiana. The pledges will help defray the startup costs associated with expansion, without adding to the state’s fiscal problem. Hospitals, pharmacies, health clinics, health plans, and others are among the groups who have pledged support.

“Under Governor Edwards’ direction, we have begun the process of implementing a cost-effective plan to expand Medicaid coverage,” said Secretary Gee. “We are working with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and our partners here in Louisiana to ensure this implementation is done correctly. This is an important step for working families in our state, and we are gratified to see so many of our stakeholders stepping up to assist us in this process.”