Medicaid

In the mountains of western North Carolina, Julia Buckner spends hours driving around what she calls God's country.

Buckner is a health navigator. Her job — and her passion — is to help the rural residents of some of the poorest counties in North Carolina sign up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

Buried in the paltry enrollment numbers for the Affordable Care Act that were released last week was something that came as a surprise to many — the success states are having signing people up for the Medicaid program, which provides health care to low-income people.

Wikimedia Commons

The state Department of Health and Hospitals is taking preliminary steps to further privatize Medicaid in Louisiana. In August, DHH released a concept paper about reforms to long-term care for the developmentally disabled and low-income elderly.

President Obama on Tuesday appointed one of his top management gurus, Jeffrey Zeints, to head the team working to fix what ails HealthCare.gov, the troubled website that's supposed to allow residents of 36 states to enroll in coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Since 2009, Louisiana and seven other states have been using a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to make Medicaid more accessible to those who are eligible.

WRKF

Last month the Obama Administration pushed back the employee mandate under the Affordable Care Act by one year. Employers with 50 or more full-time workers now have until 2015 to either provide their workers with health insurance or face a penalty.

In states that are expanding Medicaid as part of the the new health law’s roll-out, businesses have more flexibility in deciding how to make sure their workers are covered. And though Louisiana is not participating, proponents of expanding Medicaid in the state see the delay of the employer mandate as a chance to rally some small business support.

The Senate signed off on a measure yesterday that aims to restore funding to health care.

Sounds good right?

The opposition, including twenty-plus-year member of the legislature Senator Robert Adley, was quick to point out that approving the measure may back lawmakers into a corner with the budget.

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. 

Polls show that the people of Louisiana and the legislature are at odds. Tuesday a constitutional amendment to raise the cigarette tax failed in committee – though recent polls by the American Cancer Society show 73 percent of Louisianians would approve of a tobacco tax increase.


The House Appropriations Committee has approved a proposed constitutional amendment that seeks to try and maintain the level of funding to hospitals that take Medicaid patients.  

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