So What’s The Future Of This Medicaid Expansion Thing In Louisiana?

Maybe I’m crazy. We’ll find out at some point.

But here’s a scenario.

There’s a lot of pressure being put on Gov. Bobby Jindal to allow the expansion of Medicaid which is part and parcel of implementing Obamacare in Louisiana.

Jindal says he’s going to resist that pressure, because over the long term the federal dollars which are supposed to fund the Medicaid expansion will recede and the state will be on the hook for billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities which will eat up the budget for everything else – and there will be no choice but to either raise taxes or get out of Medicaid altogether.

Jindal has allies in that position in the House. The majority of the House members are either fiscal hawks or other conservatives who are not on board with the medicaid expansion.

But anybody who has paid attention to how the budget process works in the Louisiana legislature over the last several years knows that the House scrubs the budget and takes out all kinds of frivolous and stupid expenditures which never seem to go away – because every year the Senate comes along and puts all that spending right back in.

And what the Senate will do in pursuit of restoring the spending is to wait until the very end of the legislative session and then give the House its version of the budget loaded down with pork and waste. The House then has no choice but to either surrender on the budget or force a special session. This is a dysfunctional enough process; what makes it worse is that Jindal usually, if not always, sides with the Senate.

Throw the Medicaid expansion into the mix, though.

What happens if the Senate puts the Medicaid expansion into the budget and then ships that to the House at the last minute? What then?

One would assume Jindal would have to side with the House, right? For him not to would mean he’s surrendering on the Medicaid expansion.

And if Jindal were to stand strong, what happens then? Does he not have to make his peace with the fiscal hawks who now become his most valuable friends in the legislature? And when Louisiana goes into legislative overtime with a special session, with a government shutdown looming and no budget being passed, what do all the left-wing message machines who feed news stories to the Advocate and Picayune about Republican mismanagement of the state’s finances do with that fact pattern?

Chaos, that’s what.

We’re not saying this is what’s about to happen. We don’t know what the Senate is going to do with the Medicaid expansion. We do know there are a host of Medicaid expansion bills in both houses of the legislature, and we know they’re unlikely to pass in the House.

But if the Senate decides to play this game, what is right now shaping up to be a relatively boring legislative session might explode into a full-blown zoo.

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