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Campaigning to Make Promises Come True

Sue Lincoln

Just because the election is over doesn’t mean all campaigning is at an end.

“It is not a time for us to become complacent, to let up, to get comfortable,” said Rev. Lee T. Wesley of Together Louisiana at a press conference Monday.

The statewide coalition of churches and community groups said they are pleased with the election of John Bel Edwards as governor, and they’re going do everything possible to help make the first of his campaign promises come true.

“We cannot become overconfident that because Governor-elect John Bel Edwards has so firmly stated his support for Medicaid expansion that it’s going to happen,” Wesley explained.

Yet Edwards reiterated his promise the day after his runoff election victory.

“We are going to expand the Medicaid program in Louisiana. We’re going to do it as soon as we possibly can, as responsibly as we possibly can,” Edwards told reporters Sunday.

Together Louisiana points out six other states -- Florida, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming --  had governors backing Medicaid expansion, but were roadblocked by their legislatures. And Edwards now acknowledges Louisiana’s Medicaid expansion might not happen as quickly as he hoped.

“There is some question now about HCR 75 from last year, and whether that needs to be redone. There is a difference of opinion, I will tell you.”

HCR 75 was House Speaker Chuck Kleckley’s 2015 measure to allow the Louisiana Hospital Association Fund to be used to cover the state match for the federal funds, if the next governor opted to accept Medicaid expansion.

“I want to make sure that when we do it, we have a revenue source identified, so that when the match that the state has to put up is required – that it works and that it’s an arrangement that everybody’s comfortable with, including the federal government,” Edwards said Sunday.

Rev. Wesley says Together Louisiana’s campaign is focused on convincing lawmakers to make Medicaid expansion a reality.

“We are committing ourselves to press forward, to meet with legislators at the state Capitol during the special session, to meet with them in their individual districts, and to push for the expansion of Medicaid in our state.”