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

Last Modified: Friday, November 16, 2012 5:45 PM

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 employees.

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.

• • •

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.

Posted By: Abby On: 11/18/2012

Title: Really

To bad the board has not voiced an opinion before on this issue. There are many in SWLA who will suffer. I make more than 88,000. I have health insurance, but many who I know do not! Shame on those with a voice who did not use it. Shame, shame, shame

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