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For Medicaid Expansion, It’s SSDD (Same Subject, Different Decision)

“This is not, and should not be a partisan issue, Rep. John Bel Edwards said last Thursday.

When it comes to Medicaid expansion, want to bet? The same concept with the same arguments supporting it was heard from a different author in a different committee Monday, and got a very different reception.

Republican House Speaker Chuck Kleckley’s resolution sailed through House Appropriations yesterday, while Democratic Rep. John Bel Edwards’ resolution failed to pass out of House Health and Welfare last Thursday.

“These are real reforms,” Kleckley said of his measure. “This is something that will be effective. And this is right-minded.”

Now let’s compare that to what Edwards said:

“There is a 52-million dollar positive fiscal impact in Fiscal Year 16. That’s a strong case to do the right thing, because it’s also the fiscally responsible thing to do,” Edwards said of his proposal.

Kleckley cited a higher savings figure with his HCR 75.

“The savings is between 100 and 200 million. These are state general fund dollars that can be used for higher ed,” Kleckley declared.

Edwards touted similar help if his HCR 3 passed.

“It helps you meet your goal of solving the revenue shortfall,” Edwards explained.

“As much as we can fund healthcare with this bill, that frees up money to fund all of our universities, right?” Monroe Rep. Katrina Jackson asked, for clarification.

“Right,” Edwards replied.

No one on the Appropriations committee questioned Kleckley’s numbers, but in House Health and Welfare more than a few members stated they didn’t trust the fiscal note stating $52-million would be saved.

Alexandria Rep. Lance Harris made his position clear.

“I am a free-market conservative, almost a Libertarian,” Harris told Edwards. “And you and I know that I’m not gonna vote for this bill.”

On the other hand, the Speaker was told by Leesville Rep. James Armes (D), “I think this is a real good bill.”

“Good bill, Mr. Speaker,” Crowley Rep. Jack Montoucet (D) also said.

It should be noted that the House Speaker assigns bills to committees, and those referrals can make or break a bill.

Kleckley’s resolution, which passed unanimously, would utilize the hospital fund voters approved last fall to pay the state match for Medicaid expansion. The Louisiana Hospital Association supports this use of their fund.

Kleckley, who noted that Governor Jindal’s position on Medicaid expansion has been clear, said his resolution is designed for the next governor's administration to utilize. But the measure, which now heads to the House floor, cannot be overridden by a gubernatorial veto should it receive full House and Senate approval.