Healthy Louisiana Tour begins
On May 2, Gov. John Bel Edwards and Dr. Rebekah Gee, Secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals, began a statewide tour to discuss Medicaid expansion in Louisiana. Gov. Edwards and Dr. Gee also announced that the Bayou Health program is being renamed Healthy Louisiana. The new program seeks to improve the health of those who are currently covered by Medicaid and those who will become eligible for coverage under Medicaid expansion. Gov. Edwards and Dr. Gee also unveiled a new website, Healthy.La.Gov, for enrollment information for qualified individuals.
“Beginning in June, hardworking citizens of Louisiana will be able to sign up for healthcare coverage under Medicaid expansion,” Edwards said. “On my first full day in office, I began the process of bringing our federal tax dollars back to Louisiana to help our people. Now, more than 300,000 working citizens will have access to healthcare, and more than $180 million in savings will be available to help stabilize our budget, fund healthcare services, and increase funding to the TOPS program. This is one of the easiest decisions I’ve made since taking office, and I am looking forward to seeing the benefits for our state.”
The first stop was held in Baton Rouge at the CareSouth Center, one of the federally qualified health centers in the state that will provide care for many of the people who will be able to acquire health insurance, in many cases for the first time, as a result of the expansion. Gov. Edwards and Dr. Gee will visit several healthcare facilities across Louisiana within the coming weeks to help educate the public about the health benefits of Medicaid expansion for Louisianans as well as the positive impact it will have on the state budget.
“Louisiana continues to rank at or near bottom for all measures of health, but expanding Medicaid is an important step to improve our rankings,” said Dr. Gee. “Research from the Kaiser Family Foundation and from other states that have expanded Medicaid shows those with Medicaid coverage are healthier than people who are uninsured. They are more likely to have access to primary care, they are less likely to delay or go without needed medical care because of costs, and health care coverage virtually eliminates catastrophic medical expenses.”
Medicaid expansion is a hallmark of the Edwards administration. In his first official act as governor, Edwards signed an executive order adopting the expansion and making good on a campaign promise to help provide more access to health care for the uninsured. As a result, critical tax dollars that Louisianans have been paying to cover the cost of health care in other states will finally come home to help citizens here who until now have been unable to afford it.