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EDWARDS CALLS ON LEGISLATURE: CARE FOR ‘THE LEAST OF THESE’

BATON ROUGE — In a lengthy and spirited debate before the House Health & Welfare Committee today, Rep. John Bel Edwards urged state lawmakers to let their constituents, the taxpayers of Louisiana, decide whether or not the state should accept federal funds to expand Medicaid coverage. Edwards proposed legislation that would not only let the voters decide for themselves, but that would circumvent Gov. Bobby Jindal’s inevitable veto at the behest of out-of-state special interests like Grover Norquist. The bills would offer help to more than 242,000 Louisianans, including thousands of children, people struggling with disabilities and the working poor. Fighting to make the case for Louisiana families, Edwards invoked the practical and the moral implications of continuing to delay Medicaid.

“It is the right thing to do, and it is also the fiscally responsible thing to do,” said Edwards. He went on to note that “every family in the state with private insurance is paying $1K more because we do not have Medicaid expansion.” As the debate was drawn into protracted arguments over the guidance offered by scripture and our ethical responsibility to help those less fortunate, Edwards reminded his colleagues “We cannot only be concerned with the ‘thou shalt nots’, but also with the ‘thou shalls’.”

Paralyzed by partisan fear-mongering and willfully deaf to the moral arguments presented in committee, nine Republican state representatives voted against Edwards’ proposed solutions and killed the bill. Undaunted, Edwards remained determined to help Louisiana families and work to mend the GOP budget disaster, and vowed to continue his efforts to help expand healthcare access to those of our fellow citizens most desperately in need.

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