Small Victory for Medicaid Expansion Proponents

May 1, 2013

A Medicaid Expansion plan passed the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare Tuesday in a 4, 3 vote.


Opponents of the expansion repeated the arguments they’ve given throughout the debate: federal funding is unreliable, and the plan will cost the state too much money. 

Interim Secretary of Health and Hospitals Kathy Kliebert said the cost of care may increase because there would be more demand for care with more insured Louisianians.

Sen. Yvonne Dorsey Colomb told Kliebert that argument is unacceptable. 

“It’s really unconscionable that we don’t think we can handle the influx of people that will come into the system," Colomb said. "It’s really a sad day in Louisiana when the Secretary of DHH tells us that we can’t handle the people so we don’t do it.”

Dr. Fred Cerise, former secretary of DHH under Governor Blanco, testified for the bill, saying that taking the expansion should be a given, and that the debate should be about how to grow services.

Sen. Ben Nevers amended large parts of the bill to accommodate some of the oppositions’ complaints. 

There’s a clause to protect businesses. There’s another, similar to Arkansas’ plan, to protect private insurers by offering premium assistance. Another provision would cancel the plan if federal funding drops out. 

And another still address some Republican representatives’ worries that too many people will become dependent on the government. It requires enrollees to acknowledge that the program isn’t an entitlement program and is subject to cancelation.

Proponents of the bill celebrated a small victory yesterday evening. But if all of the Senate democrats are swayed, they’ll have to find five republican votes.