BATON ROUGE – During today’s hearings at the Louisiana legislature, while the House was attempting to wrestle with the $1.6 billion budgetary nightmare Gov. Bobby Jindal’s failed policies created, Rep. John Bel Edwards put forward an amendment to expand Medicaid and bring $52 million into our state. If adopted, Medicaid expansion would bring in nine dollars for every dollar the state spends. More importantly, it would bring healthcare coverage to 290,000 working Louisiana citizens currently forced to do without. Fifty-six Republican state representatives voted as a party to refuse those funds and to deny their fellow citizens desperately needed healthcare.
Joined by a single Republican legislator, the Democrats in the Louisiana legislature took a united stand for the people of our state. In a vote of 56-41 to refuse vital funds at a time when the budget is in dire straits, the priorities of the two parties were thrown into stark relief. Given the chance to ease suffering of their fellow citizens, and to bring $52 million into the state, Republicans in the legislature put politics above people and said “no.”
In doing so, the GOP again ignored appeals from organizations including AARP, Southwest Louisiana Health Education, Louisiana Budget Project, Louisiana Supported Living Network, League of Women Voters, Louisiana Interchurch Conference, AFLCIO, and the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“The party line vote against expanding healthcare speaks for itself,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director for the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Just looking at the roll call gives you a stark, black-and-white picture of the degree to which the GOP has abandoned any pretense of sound financial policy or common decency, and embraced politics over people.”