Last Modified: Thursday, January 07, 2016 10:50 AM
The incoming Louisiana Legislature and Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards need to get all the waste and abuse in the current Medicaid system under control before even thinking about expanding it.
Medicaid has already grown 51 percent during the past eight years of the Jindal administration.
Don Gregory, Medicaid director until he retired in 2012, recently gave The Advocate an example of how inefficient, both fiscally and medically, the system is.
He cited the case of a woman on Medicaid in Louisiana who was worried about the effects of having three X-rays in one week. The woman had slipped on a fishing pier and broken her foot. Using her Medicaid card she was X-rayed first in an emergency room, secondly by a physician in a follow-up visit and thirdly by an orthopedic specialist.
Gregory was concerned the Medicaid system was going to have to pay for three separate X-rays for the same broken foot.
“And that’s the problem with Medicaid: There’s no coordination and there’s no incentive not to run the same test three times,” Gregory said, who is now a consultant for the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana.
Medicaid spending has grown so much since 2008 that when all the prodigious cuts to other parts of state government are added up ?— and adjusted for inflation — the eight-year total covers less than half the increased costs for doctors, hospitals, pharmacists and other providers of health care to the poor.
State Rep. Julie Stokes told The Advocate that the federal government kicks in almost two-thirds of Medicaid’s costs, but Louisiana’s $8.4 billion (38 percent) match amounts to more than a third of the state’s annual $25.1 billion budget.
“If we do not get on top of this, I predict that within five years we will be spending well over half of our state budget on health care,” State Treasurer John Kennedy said recently.
There is no free ride when it comes to government-provided health care. The people of Louisiana are paying for a system that is wasteful, inefficient and unsustainable in the long run.
It needs to be brought under control.