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Future of Louisiana Economic Development Must Include Expanding Access to Affordable Health Care

Jindal to Tout “Future of Economic Development” at Today’s Baton Rouge Press Club

BATON ROUGE — Gov. Bobby Jindal is planning to speak at a special meeting of the Baton Rouge Press Club today on the future of economic development in Louisiana, but any conversation about the topic must include a discussion of how expanding access to affordable health care will boost the state’s economy.

“If this governor wants to talk about the future of economic development in our state, he must face reality — the same reality that John Kasich, Jan Brewer and Chris Christie have faced,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Chair Karen Carter Peterson. “Expanding access to affordable health care by accepting federal Medicaid dollars is one of the best investments we can make to improve the health of our citizens, create jobs and boost our economy.”

Accepting federal dollars to expand access to Medicaid insurance would support approximately 15,600 new jobs in Louisiana, according to a study by Families USA. The increased federal funding and jobs created would increase economic activity in Louisiana by nearly $1.8 billion in 2016.

A recent report by the Commonwealth Fund highlighted how Medicaid expansion dollars compare with other federal investments. For example, Louisiana would gain an additional $2.3 billion in federal Medicaid dollars in 2022, and that sum is more than double the $902 million the state will receive in federal highway transportation funds.

The Commonwealth Fund study also noted that while Louisiana would spend $280 million in match funds to draw down the additional Medicaid dollars, the state will spend about $2.2 billion in tax incentives to attract business in 2022.

“At some point we have to look at our rate of return on investment, and by that standard, expanding access to Medicaid insurance is a slam dunk,” said Peterson. “I know of no other economic development plan that would create more than 15,000 jobs and provide nearly $2 billion in increased economic activity. We’ve seen the unemployment rate steadily rise in Louisiana, from 3.8 percent when Jindal took office to 6.3 percent in November, so we must focus on where we get the biggest bang for the buck — and that’s with Medicaid expansion.”