Medicaid expansion

Is Republican House Speaker Chuck Kleckley calling for Medicaid expansion? No, that can’t be right. 

In the 2010 legislative session, Gov. Jindal signed into law a largely symbolic bill declaring all Louisianians free from quote “governmental intrusion in choosing or declining to choose any mode of securing health insurance coverage.” That was shortly after the federal Affordable Care Act passed, and 31 Republican lawmakers, including Kleckley, co-authored the measure.

Fast forward to today. Kleckey pushed the resolution allowing Louisiana’s next governor to pay for Medicaid expansion. Both houses approved, and the governor has no say.

Dallas's Parkland Hospital treats a lot of people without health insurance. On a November day in 1963, emergency room doctors at this county hospital frantically tried to save an American president who could not be saved. These days, emergency room doctors frantically try to treat 240,000 patients every year.

"So you can see we have every treatment area filled up. Beds are in the hallways and the rooms are all full," says Dr. John Pease, chief of emergency services.

They took every penny they could find.

“The House efforts have solved 850-million of the one billion dollar problem,” Appropriations chairman Jim Fannin announced.

They even decided what to do with some money they’ve not yet found.

“This 31-million for the medical school in Shreveport would be put in a priority line if that funding is available,” Shreveport Rep. Thomas Carmody said, in support of Rep. Bubba Chaney’s amendment to HB 1.

It took six hours of debate, but he full House passed a 24-billion dollar budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, resolving over half the $1.6-billion dollar shortfall.

Five years after the Affordable Care Act passed, the law's provision allowing the expansion of Medicaid coverage to more people is still causing huge fights in state legislatures.

“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.

The Republican-controlled Florida legislature — at odds over the question of whether to expand Medicaid — abruptly ended its session three days early on Tuesday, leaving hundreds of bills that are unrelated to health care unfinished.

Andy Gardiner, president of Florida's state Senate, says he's disappointed with the House's decision to stop negotiating and leave town.

Johnny Reynolds knew that something was wrong as far back as 2003. That's when he first started experiencing extreme fatigue.

"It was like waking up every morning and just putting a person over my shoulders and walking around with them all day long," says Reynolds, 54, who lived in Ohio at the time.

In addition, Reynolds was constantly thirsty and drank so much water that he would urinate 20 or 30 times per day. "And overnight I would probably get up at least eight or nine times a night," he says.

Finding the way down off the fiscal cliff could be as simple as turning around, and looking back at the path that brought us here.

“The root of our current budget problems goes back to the decision in 2008, under Gov. Jindal, to repeal the Stelly tax changes that voters passed in 2002,” says Louisiana Budget Project director Jan Moller. “That has taken about six to seven hundred million dollars our of our tax base every year.”

During the last legislative session, state Sen. Ben Nevers fought hard for the expansion of Medicaid in Louisiana under the Affordable Care Act. But ultimately, a bill to put the issue on the ballot didn’t even make it out of committee. 

But the legislature did pass another bill from Nevers, compelling the state Department of Health and Hospitals to come up with a plan for Louisiana to pilot “America Next” — Gov. Bobby Jindal’s alternative to Obamacare. 

DHH put out their initial report in response a few weeks ago.


Last year, the Republican playbook for keeping control of the House of Representatives in 2014 and winning the Senate consisted of a fairly simple strategy: Run against Obamacare.

But now that the 2014 races are starting to take shape, that strategy isn't looking quite so simple. Democrats are fighting back. They're focusing on Republican opposition to the health law's expansion of Medicaid as a part of their own campaigns.

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