Editorial: Here's to hoping that opposition to Obamacare is for right reasons rather than political gain

It’s official. Louisiana will not participate in Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein informed the federal government last week that the

state would opt out of setting up its own health insurance exchange.

The state’s position comes as no

surprise as Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal has been an ardent critic of

President Obama’s signature

health-care plan.

In a letter to U.S. Department of

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, said the

exchanges touted by the

plan will likely raise costs and limit choices and predicted that

many employers will drop health insurance coverage for their


With the state turning down the option to operate the exchanges, that task will now fall to Sebelius’ office.

The Obama administration believes the exchanges will provide a place where consumers can compare insurance plans.

Families with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level – or about $88,000 for a family of four -– will be eligible

for subsidies to pay for coverage. The Urban Institute estimates that nearly 210,000 Louisiana residents would qualify for

the subsidies.

The Affordable Care Act will expand coverage to poor uninsured people by increasing the state-run Medicaid program. The law

calls for the federal government to pick up the tab for the expansion in its first few years but for the states to absorb

at least 10 percent of the costs in later years.

Jindal has criticized that plan, saying Louisiana cannot afford those future costs. From 2014-2016, the federal government

will pay for the cost of the expansion. But by 2020 and beyond, the state would have to pick up 10 percent of the bill.

Nevertheless, the state remains dependent on the federal government for funding its Medicaid program. According to The Urban

Institute, more than 630,000 adults in Louisiana have no health insurance.

There’s a moral dilemma here. On one side there’s the eventual cost to the state of the expanded Medicaid program. On the

other are the more than 15 percent of the state’s population that has not health insurance.

There’s plenty of reasons for Jindal and other governors to oppose Obamacare, and at least 13 other governors have indicated

they will opt out of the exchange program.

We hope it’s for the right reasons rather than political gain or ambition.

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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.