Residents for programs backed by Edwards

The American Press

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. (Associated Press)

Gov. John Bel Edwards isn’t faring too well with Republican leaders in the Louisiana House, but he gets high marks from residents. Perhaps lawmakers should spend more time reading public opinion polls and listening less to lobbyists who represent special interests.

The 2018 Louisiana Survey conducted by LSU’s Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs found that 69 percent of those surveyed agree with Edwards’ decision to expand Medicaid, the federal-state health care system for poor and low-income Americans. Another 61 percent viewed criminal justice reform favorably, another program the governor pushed.

Expansion of Medicaid came as part of the Affordable Care Act enacted during the Barack Obama administration. It opens the health care program to people and families making below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, about $34,000 annually for a family of four.

An independent report released last week confirms those polled were right in backing the Medicaid decision. The expansion resulted in a $1.85 billion infusion of federal funds into the state, helped create nearly 19,200 jobs and spurred nearly $3.6 billion in state economic activity.

The more than 471,000 who received the expanded coverage are seeing astounding health care outcomes. More than 360 women have been diagnosed with breast cancer, 7,418 adults learned they have diabetes and more than 19,300 adults are being treated for hypertension.

Many of the residents who are benefiting from Medicaid expansion previously got treated in hospital emergency rooms, and the state had to reimburse those hospitals. Edwards said expansion means 10 cents of every dollar instead of 40 cents is being spent on health care for those residents.

The Legislature last year enacted 10 laws dealing with criminal justice reform that has become a program supported by organizations representing different political points of view. The laws are lowering incarceration rates and the costs of keeping people in prison.

The Louisiana District Attorneys Association reluctantly supported the reforms, but it quickly returned this year to try and reverse some of those positive changes. Judges and district attorneys jealously guard their authority to make criminal justice decisions.

We urge members of the Legislature to remember that the people they represent feel good about those reforms and are happy others are enjoying improved health care.

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