BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, along with Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) Secretary Rebekah Gee and Louisiana Delta Community College (LDCC) Chancellor Dennis Epps, on Monday, Apr. 1 announced a pilot program intended to help 50 recipients of Edwards’ Medicaid expansion get “better jobs” by offering free work-skills training.
In some ways, the concept behind the program is similar to a proposal sent to state Medicaid directors nationwide in January of 2018, which focused on “incentivizing” work and community engagement activities. In other ways, the newly announced program improves upon its flaws.
The program is non-punitive. Unlike the January proposal, participants don’t run the risk of losing coverage if they are unable to attended a certain amount of courses, the governor’s office said.
Previous proposals put forth by state lawmakers focused on enforcing work requirements for coverage, however, nationwide, federal judges have blocked punitive legislation. Most recently, mandates in Arkansas and Kentucky were blocked.
The governor’s office says it has adapted its proposal following those developments to avoid spending time and money locked in legal battles. However, it hasn’t ruled out the idea completely.
Also worth-noting, are criticisms the January proposal drew because it did not allocate funds for transportation to and from its mandatory courses.
The governor’s program similarly does not allocate funding for transportation, however, the governor’s office says it is exploring options with faith-based organizations to assist with transportation to the two LDCC campuses - the main campus in Monroe and the campus in West Monroe.
The program’s leadership will need to find solutions soon, as the first invitations to participate will be distributed in summer of 2019.
Those invited to participate will include people between the ages of 19 and 49 in the Monroe region. Students in the pilot program won’t be charged tuition, The Associated Press reports.
The program will be implemented in two stages, and the time participants will have to complete the program ranges from days to weeks, depending on which course of study they select. A total of five training programs will be offered:
- Certified Nurse Assistant (CAN)/Behavioral Health Technician (239 hours)
- Commercial Vehicle Operations (CVO) (160 hours)
- Environmental Services Technician (120 hours)
- Forklift & OSHA 10 (Wagner Special) (24 hours)
- Mortgage Documents Specialist (18 hours)