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Thursday, July 31, 2014
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Editorial: Health care for New Orleans?

Last Modified: Thursday, October 11, 2012 9:07 PM

Gov. Bobby Jindal has made it abundantly clear that should President Obama win re-election, Louisiana will opt out and not participate in the federal Affordable Health Care Act.

But some officials in New Orleans are exploring the option of attaining the federal health care program for their metro area.

New Orleans Health Care Commissioner Karen DeSalvo told the Times-Picayune last month that the city is exploring options with the federal Department of Health and Human Services to provide expanded Medicaid coverage to the uninsured poor.

Nearly 21 percent of Louisiana’s population, or about 938,000 residents, do not have health insurance. Only Texas and Nevada have a higher percentage of residents without health coverage.

Eight other Republican governors have announced their states will not participate in the Affordable Health Care Act after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states can’t be forced by the federal government to expand Medicaid.

Other cities and counties have said they are also exploring options of applying for expanded Medicaid coverage for their residents.

Jindal has said he opposes the health care provision because of its potential costs to the state. The plan calls for states to be reimbursed 100 percent of the costs of expanding Medicaid coverage to poor families from 2014 to 2016, but the reimbursement gradually falls to 90 percent by 2020.

“Look, federal dollars aren’t free,” Jindal has said previously. “Those dollars are coming from us, our children, our grandchildren. We’re borrowing money from China to spend on government programs we can’t afford.”

Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein said the Medicaid expansion is a “bad idea” and that it could cost the state as much as $3.7 billion over 10 years.

He also said DHH administers the Medicaid program in Louisiana and would have to approve any changes.

Of course, this posturing may all be moot if Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney wins the election next month.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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