NEW ORLEANS, LA (WAFB) - Governor John Bel Edwards, flanked by governors and governors-elect from across the United States, toured Daughter’s of Charity health clinic in New Orleans, boasting about the benefits of Medicaid expansion for Louisiana’s working poor.
Edwards issued an executive order in 2016 expanding Medicaid. So far the decision has exceeded expectations for success in helping 480,000 Louisianians getting insurance, upping the number of uninsured Louisianans from one in four to one in 10, Edwards told reporters. Additionally, Edwards claimed the decision saved more than $300 million in the state general fund, rural hospitals now have the means to stay open, and an additional 19,000 people are employed.
“People are being diagnosed earlier with diseases and they’re getting treated more effectively. And we’re giving them an opportunity to live,” Edwards told WAFB’s sister station in New Orleans, WVUE.
However, Edwards faces strong opposition from Louisiana Senator John Kennedy who says he supports Medicaid, but does not agree with the way it is operated in the state of Louisiana.
"Medicaid has helped a lot of people and I support it,” Kennedy said. “Governor Edwards has wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in implementing Louisiana’s Medicaid program. If government waste was a crime, John Bel would be serving a life sentence.”
Kennedy, who is considering a bid for governor and is scheduled to announce Monday whether or not he will run, says issues with income verification processes could be costing the state money.
“It’s like the Price is Right, come on down. You want to be on Medicaid? It doesn’t matter how much money you make, they’ll take anybody,” Kennedy said. “Number two, even for those who do qualify, if they could work, we ought to help them get a job. John Bel implemented a work requirement for Medicaid. The problem is, it’s a work requirement without work,” Kennedy told WVUE.
Eric Holl, a spokesman for Victory 2019, the Democratic Coordinated Campaign, fired back at Kennedy, saying Kennedy’s previous actions contradict his claims that he supports Medicaid.
“Senator Kennedy is all Washington talk, but his record tells the real story. Senator Kennedy voted to take away Medicaid Expansion and kick 480,000 working class Louisianans off of their health care. Senator Kennedy’s disastrous vote would’ve cost Louisiana nearly $2 billion in federal funds and 19,000 jobs. But more importantly, Sen. Kennedy’s vote would have prevented hard working Louisianans from getting life-saving medical care. Hopefully soon Senator Kennedy will stop the Washington talk and actually do something to help Louisianans get better, more affordable health care, instead of trying to kick them off their insurance,” said Holl.
Louisianans can anticipate the issue to be of high importance in both campaigns should Kennedy announce he will run for governor.