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PAR issues Research Brief on Medicaid Expansion

In a report released today, the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana recommends the state conduct a more thorough analysis of the costs and benefits of expanding Medicaid coverage for uninsured adults under the Affordable Care Act. Key factors have not been considered in previous analyses. Click here for the full report.

PAR again recommends that the Legislature provide greater input and guidance into the decision of whether to participate in the Medicaid expansion. PAR has previously recommended that the Legislature establish a special committee or commission to provide oversight and verification of the state’s Medicaid healthcare program implementation.

The governor should explain his alternative path for health care coverage for Louisiana’s uninsured if he chooses not to expand Medicaid, and the Legislature should play a role in shaping that policy. The governor has laid out some broad policy ideas for reforming Medicaid. If he has specific policy requests for flexibility under ACA and has not formally sought approval, he should make those requests to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. If an alternative plan to Medicaid expansion can be tailored to Louisiana, it deserves the public’s consideration.

“The current governor and possibly the next governor will be facing the very significant decision of whether to adopt the Medicaid eligibility expansion for adults,” said PAR President Robert Travis Scott. “Whether the state goes along or not, there are both positive and negative consequences either way. A new analysis could help us better understand those trade-offs and give us a better estimate than we have now about the ultimate impact of this new health care program.”

The PAR report outlines the costs and savings associated with the Medicaid expansion for Louisiana. PAR recommends the state seek an updated, more comprehensive analysis to enable leadership to make a fully informed decision about whether to expand Medicaid. The PAR report provides an assessment of the Medicaid expansion studies that have been completed to date.

Factors that will likely affect future health care in Louisiana include the reduction of federal uncompensated care dollars nationally, the transition of the LSU Charity system to public-private partnerships and the implementation of health care exchanges. If the governor chooses not to expand Medicaid, he should explain to the Legislature and the public how these various pieces fit together in a comprehensive plan for health care in Louisiana.

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