Edwards signs executive order to begin Medicaid expansion
BATON ROUGE - Newly-minted Gov. John Bel Edwards signed his first executive order Tuesday, beginning the process to expand Medicaid in Louisiana.
The signing comes two days before President Barack Obama's visit to Baton Rouge, where he'll champion his federal health care overhaul that allows for the Medicaid expansion.
Edwards has said he wants to have government-funded health insurance cards in more people's hands by July 1. He says under the expansion, individuals making up to $16,242 per year and $33,465 for families of up to four would be eligible to get Medicaid health insurance, an increase of around 300,000 people.
Edwards said expansion was the "fiscally responsible" thing to do, and said the because the Jindal administration chose not to expand Medicaid the state had missed out on possibly $3 billion in federal health care money.
Louisiana would join 30 other states that have undertaken Medicaid expansions, including several states overseen by Republicans. But expansion efforts have been stymied in most Southern states amid GOP resistance
It's unclear whether Louisiana's Republican-led Legislature will try to throw up roadblocks to slow down Edwards' expansion plans.
"This is not a right versus left thing," Edwards said Tuesday. "It's right versus wrong, and today we got on the right side."