So we read at the bottom of page 3A in today’s edition of The Advocate, an article entitled “MEDICAID EXPANSION ENROLLMENT DIPS SLIGHTLY, DOWN 50,000 FROM PEAK AMID NEW WAGE CHECK SYSTEM.”
The thrust of the article appears to be that the administration of John Bel Edwards has successfully initiated a wage check verification system which is weeding out the ineligible people who enrolled in the Governor Edwards’ Medicaid expansion on the first day of his administration.
What the reader would not divine from reading this article is the unfortunate fact that although John Bel Edwards had long planned his version of Medicaid expansion, the rollout of the program was a financial disaster which continues apace. By way of illustration, the “dip” referred to in the article’s title represents a ten percent drop in the total number of Medicaid recipients in the program, primarily due to the fact that the participants were not eligible to be in the program in the first place!
The injury done to the state’s finances must necessarily now be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, as the program was rolled out in early 2016. Yet we read further down in the article that the Medicaid director at the Louisiana Department of Health said “it will likely take a full year with the new eligibility system to determine where enrollment will end up”. Of course, that is bureaucratic code for admitting that the wage verification checks are nowhere near completed, and won’t be until after the election.
Had the Governor made any attempt whatsoever to verify the eligibility of the Medicaid expansion applicants by using their own tax data, within a reasonable time after their applications were submitted, this could all have been avoided. Surely his tax increases could have been reduced or perhaps even avoided altogether had the state not been wasting ever greater amounts of money on Medicaid recipients who weren’t eligible to receive such benefits. Many other states were aware of this problem and had taken corrective measures to reduce fraud in their programs years earlier. Louisiana would have benefited hugely from their experiences, but the Governor was in too much of a hurry to take even the most basic precautions.
His intemperance has cost us dearly, but the damage will likely get worse because, you see, the Governor and his administration continue to fight legislative attempts at wage verification, up to and including this most recent legislative session.
No, congratulations are not in order for the Governor on his Medicaid expansion. Whether one is for or against the program itself, it is clear for all to see how damaging the botched rollout and defective implementation have been to Louisiana’s finances!
Louis Gurvich, Chairman
Republican Party of Louisiana