Editor’s Note: didn’t we talk about this issue before? Why, yes. Yes we did.
This week, the Louisiana Legislature will begin debating legislation that would force Louisiana to expand Medicaid as part of President Obama’s health care law. It’s a bad move for Louisiana taxpayers. Here are seven reasons why we shouldn’t expand Medicaid.
1. The expansion of Medicaid will move up to 171,000 Louisianians off of private insurance and stop another 77,000 people from going into private insurance. That would force them into the Medicaid program. The actual uninsured population that should be focused on is about 214,000 people. Instead, President Obama’s health care law would actually add double that number — over 450,000 people — to the Medicaid rolls.
2. President Obama’s Medicaid expansion could cost taxpayers in Louisiana $1.7 billion over the first 10 years of implementation, and the cost will continue to rise. Additionally, the percentage of state funds spent on Medicaid has nearly doubled over the past 16 years and expanding the program could further threaten funding for higher education, transportation, and other critical services.
3. By expanding President Obama’s health care law, 41 percent of Louisiana’s population would be dumped into Medicaid. Soon there will be more people riding in the cart than people pulling the cart. The president is gradually turning the world’s greatest health care system into the world’s largest welfare system.
4. Without expanding Medicaid, and once eligible people are enrolled into health care exchanges set up by the federal government, there will be less than 6 percent of Louisianians without health insurance. That’s why the state is focused on implementing public-private partnerships with charity hospitals across the state to expand access.
5. There’s too much uncertainty in President Obama’s health care law. The President promised that if his law passed, health insurance premiums would go down. Instead, people are seeing health care premium increases. A study from the Society of Actuaries indicates that health insurance premiums will likely increase by 32 percent for individual and small group policies as a result of the president’s health care law. A study by Louisiana Association of Health Plans and America’s Health Insurance Plans estimates that the premium tax in the law will force policyholders in Louisiana to pay over $2,000 more for single coverage and over $4,500 more for family coverage for individuals over the next 10 years.
6. Funding for the president’s health care law is unstable, which could encourage cost shifting to states. For example, the U.S. Senate voted to get rid of an excise tax on medical devices that is supposed to generate $30 billion to pay for Obamacare. Another sign of uncertainty is President Obama’s recent proposal to use a blended Medicaid rate.
7. The billions of dollars obligated for Medicaid expansion will make a likely target for future deficit reduction talks in Congress. Louisianians know better than most that federal funding is never guaranteed. Indeed, the federal government has already cut $1.8 billion in Medicaid funding for Louisiana and dropped the Medicaid match rate to its lowest point in 25 years.
We know there is a better way. That’s why we’ve expanded access to care at hospitals across the state through innovative public-private partnerships so that more people can access the quality care they need.
— Bobby Jindal is the governor of the State of Louisiana.