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Democratic Leaders Advocate for Responsible Budget That Boosts Health Care Funding

Democrats Back Proposals to Expand Access to Medicaid Health Care for Working Families

BATON ROUGE — House Speaker Pro Tempore Walt Leger and legislative Democrats are continuing their fight for a responsible budget that addresses Gov. Bobby Jindal’s devastating cuts to health care by advocating for two proposals that would expand access to Medicaid health care for kids, people with disabilities and working parents.

“We want the Governor and our colleagues here in the Legislature to just say yes to health care,” said House Speaker Pro Tempore Walt Leger. “Our first proposal is a bipartisan plan that would allow our hospitals to make an investment, so that we can get additional dollars from the federal government. This plan has been adopted in 39 other states, and it has support from the Louisiana Hospital Association, the AARP, Blueprint Louisiana and many other groups.”

“Our second proposal would expand Medicaid health insurance to families of four that earn $32,000 or less,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Chair Karen Carter Peterson. “The federal government will pick up the tab entirely for the first three years, and the Legislature can revisit the issue in 2016. Meanwhile, we will be able to provide more women in Louisiana with preventive care, including cancer screenings and annual checkups, with no out-of-pocket cost. We will protect our rural hospitals and help small businesses that can’t afford to pay for coverage for their employees. This is fiscally responsible, but more than that, it’s the right thing to do.”

House Bill 532, sponsored Speaker Chuck Kleckley and Leger, would create the Hospital Stabilization Fund and allow the state to draw down additional Medicaid dollars from the federal government. Patients and businesses would not be impacted, but it would allow more Louisiana hospitals to accept patients with Medicaid coverage, which currently only pays about 60 percent of the cost of care in Louisiana.

Gov. Bobby Jindal has previously rejected expanding access to Medicaid health care for 400,000 Louisianans, despite the fact that it will lower health care costs overall by reducing the cost of uncompensated care, which increases premiums for family coverage by about $1,000 annually. The Louisiana Hospital Association, as well as the Louisiana League of Women Voters, New Orleans Medical Society, Louisiana Consumer Healthcare Coalition, Louisiana Primary Care Association, AARP and Children’s Defense Fund all support the proposal.