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Several Medicaid expansion bills fail at Capitol

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BATON ROUGE - One last, big push to get Medicaid expansion in Louisiana failed today inside a House committee at the Capitol.

"If we accept Affordable Care Act, 240,000 will be eligible for affordable care," said Rep. Herbert Dixon (D-Alexandria).

Dixon was first up Wednesday, pushing one of several bills looking to expand Medicaid by accepting federal money under the Affordable Care Act. The expansion would cover the working poor, more than 200,000 people statewide who currently don't qualify for Medicaid.

"If you make above $11,490, you're not eligible," Dixon said.

The Department of Health and Hospitals testified against the bill.

"When looking at bringing influx of hundreds of thousands of new enrollees, there's the question of is there adequate provider network to serve," said Calder Lynch, chief of staff at DHH.

One by one, bills to expand Medicaid were soundly defeated by nearly double-digit votes on the Health and Welfare Committee.

Rep. Pat Smith (D-Baton Rouge), was looking to let voters decide whether or not to expand through a constitutional amendment. But that too was defeated.

"It is important to have health care in Louisiana," Smith said. "We need to do something about the issues we have. We are one of the most unhealthy states in the country."

There's still a bill making it's way through the Senate that would expand health care to the poor by using an alternative plan created by Governor Jindal.


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