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Lawmakers look to expand Medicaid

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Posted: Apr 8, 2014 4:18 PM by Jason Newton
Updated: Apr 8, 2014 5:15 PM
Source: WBRZ

  Rating: 5.0 (2 votes)

Topics: medicaid, expansion, pat smith, walt leger, obamacare, aca, affordable care act

BATON ROUGE - State lawmakers are looking for ways to expand coverage to the uninsured without Governor Jindal's help.

They call it the "Jindal gap," since the governor's dismissal of Obamacare leaves more than 200,000 without health insurance.

With reduced work hours and a disabled husband, Jan Wells of Slidell, is struggling.

"We were doing really fine until my husband, who suffers from cerebral palsy, had to medically retire in April," Wells said.

To make matters worse she has no medical insurance. She falls in the Jindal gap, a group of over 242,000 working Louisianians who make too much to receive Medicaid, but too little to afford to purchase a policy on the state-run exchanges.

"They have fallen into the Jindal gap, forgotten and ignored by their governor," said Rep. Patricia Smith (D) - Baton Rouge.

Jindal is one of several republican governors who refuses to expand Medicaid for this group. And now lawmakers are pushing a constitutional amendment that would allow a vote of the people to decide whether or not to accept federal money and expand Medicaid.

"Not just because working people deserve access to affordable healthcare, but because it makes sense for the fiscal health of our state," said Rep. Walt Leger, (D) - New Orleans. "And as we continue to struggle with budgeting, we need solutions, and there's a limited number of solutions."

With the closing of Earl K. Long and other state-run hospitals, lawmakers said there are increased numbers in other emergency rooms and that those hospitals need reimbursement money to help cover the number of patients they now see.

"Because they don't have insurance, they can't afford medication to treat chronic disease states," said Dr. Rani Whitfield, MD. "They end up in the hospital with severe health problems."

As for Wells, she's decided to pack up and move out of the state.

"Our governor likes to talk about people moving into our state. Well we're planning on moving out to a state that has medical expansion," Wells said.

In a statement, the governor's office said the fight over Medicaid expansion is a push from President Obama for more big government.

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