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Medicaid Maneuver Poses Dilemma for Louisiana Congressmen

President Barack Obama was in Baton Rouge yesterday, heaping praise on new Governor John Bel Edwards.

“This week, he took the bold and wise step to expand Medicaid to cover hundreds of thousands of hard-working Louisianans,” the President told town hall event-goers at McKinley High School. They responded with cheers.

“And, by the way, it will actually help the state’s finances,” the President added.

Speaking with reporters later in the day, after delivering the keynote address at the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry’s annual meeting, Governor Edwards said he believes the President is truly trying to help Louisiana with its budget mess.

“He is going to be asking Congress to allow the states, as they opt-into the Medicaid expansion, from that point forward to have three years at a hundred-percent match rate from the federal government,” Edwards explained, then adding it’s not a guarantee.

“I mean, he doesn’t get to do that on his own, which is why I’m calling on Congress to help us do that. It’s in the best interest of our state.”

The governor is headed to Washington the end of next week, and will be meeting with Louisiana’s congressional delegation to ask for their support. However, all but one of them are Republicans, and as Congressman Steve Scalise has said, “We made a promise as Republicans that we would focus on a bill that guts Obamacare.”

Here’s where it gets tricky: with the exception of Senator Bill Cassidy, all of the congressional seats are up for election this fall. Several of the current congressmen, like Charles Boustany of Lafayette, are running for the other U.S. Senate seat.

“I rise to vigorously oppose Obamacare,” Boustany said on the U.S. House floor this fall. “We need to repeal this ‘Obama-nation’.”

Yet with Louisiana facing nearly $3-billion in budget shortfalls, will those Republican congressmen stick with the party line and oppose the extension of 100% federal funding for new Medicaid expansions? Or will they support their home state?

And how will either choice play in campaign commercials, or with the voters this fall?