Jindal disputes savings estimate for expansion

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal

disagreed Tuesday with a nonpartisan financial analysis done for

lawmakers that estimated

the state could save more than $500 million over 10 years by

expanding Louisiana's Medicaid program under the federal health

law.

The analysis by the Legislative Fiscal Office came in advance of Wednesday's hearings in the House and Senate health care

committees on bills that would enact the expansion and cover as many as 400,000 uninsured through Medicaid.

Louisiana would get an estimated $15 billion

to $16 billion in federal Medicaid funding over a decade to cover the

additional

low-income residents. The federal government will cover the full

costs of the Medicaid expansion from 2014 to 2016 and pick

up most of the price tag after that, requiring states to pay up to

10 percent.

The fiscal office says the state would save

money under the Medicaid expansion because the federal government would

cover

a greater portion of expenses for certain current Medicaid

enrollees, the state would pay less for uninsured care and federal

dollars would cover prisoner health care services that are

currently paid by the state.

Jindal, an opponent of the expansion, said the fiscal office report was too conservative in its estimates. He said the analysis

should have assumed the state would have to pay health care providers more for taking care of Medicaid patients because of

the influx of people into the program.

He cites the high end of estimates in a

study from his health department that says the expansion could cost the

state $1.7

billion over a decade. But the same study also says Louisiana

could save up to $368 million, without those provider rate increases.

About 200 supporters of the expansion rallied on the state capitol steps Tuesday.