BATON ROUGE — Today state Rep. Pat Smith and Speaker Pro Tempore Walt Leger joined Jan Wells, a Slidell woman who is in the “Jindal gap,” at Brent’s Pharmacy in Baton Rouge to talk about legislative efforts to let Louisiana decide to expand access to affordable health care and protect Louisiana hospitals.
“Our proposal represents compromise,” said Smith. “We should take from what other states like Arkansas have learned and use their example to create a Louisiana plan that meets the needs of the people of this state. This governor has turned this issue into a partisan issue when it doesn’t need to be. Republican governors in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania — even Chris Christie in New Jersey — are taking the Medicaid dollars and expanding access to health care in their states. We are ready and willing to talk with our colleagues across the aisle about how we do this. What we cannot do is continue to say no. We cannot continue to refuse billions in dollars from the federal government to expand access to health insurance and protect our hospitals.”
“It is essential that we accept billions in federal Medicaid dollars for the future of our hospitals and health care system,” said Leger. “Since the closing of Earl K. Long, Baton Rouge General’s Mid-City Hospital has been inundated with new patients who are uninsured. If we want to protect Baton Rouge General and hospitals across the state — hospitals in cities and rural communities alike — we have two possible solutions. We can ask the taxpayers to pay more to fund our hospitals. Or we can accept Medicaid dollars that Louisianians have already sent to Washington and bring those dollars back to our state, to be used for the health and welfare of the people of this state.”
“My husband and I have done everything right,” said Wells, who is a graphic designer that earns too much for Medicaid and not enough for subsidies at HealthCare.gov. “We played by the rules, worked hard and paid taxes our entire lives. We even took in people after Hurricane Katrina. Our governor likes to talk about all of the people moving into Louisiana. Well, my husband and I are planning on moving out of Louisiana in the next few months to a state that has taken the Medicaid expansion. That’s right, I stayed after Hurricane Katrina, and now I’m leaving because of Hurricane Bobby.”
From left to right: Rep. Pat Smith, Jan Wells, Dr. Rani Whitfield, Speaker Pro Tempore Walt Leger