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Edwards still plans to expand Medicaid

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BATON ROUGE - Governor-Elect John Bel Edwards plans to expand Medicaid early on in his term. Louisiana is one of twenty states that hasn't expanded the program offered under the Affordable Care Act.

"We're going to do it as soon as we can, as responsibly as we possibly can, and it will be one of the early initiatives that you see in my administration," said Edwards.

Hospital groups, big business associations, and grass roots campaigns are all pushing for the expansion.

"For too long we've been strapped with political disagreement over the expansion of Medicaid at the expense of people who are not insured," said Lee Wesley with Together Louisiana.

298,000 uninsured Louisianians qualify for Medicaid under an expanded program, according to the Legislative Fiscal Office. The expansion would save the state $52 million in the first year and $102 million over five years, that money coming from the federal government.

The feds would cover 100 percent of the expanded program during the first year. Then it would gradually step down its contribution to 90 percent starting on the fifth year. A good deal according to supporters.

"Instead of paying 40 cents on the dollar for treating the uninsured in the charity hospital system, Medicaid expansion would allow Louisiana to pay 10 cents on the dollar with the federal government picking up the rest," said Jan Moller with the Louisiana Budget Project.

Governor Bobby has opposed Medicaid expansion saying it would cost the state too much money in the long run.

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