Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Gov. Jindal forgot something

In today's Washington Post, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal asks President Obama for a meeting to discuss the expansion of Medicaid under the American Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare).
As the implementation of Obamacare unfortunately nears, every governor must decide whether to expand Medicaid. This is not a simple question. Expanding Medicaid will significantly burden state budgets across the country.

Our state’s analyses, and reports by organizations that have supported Obamacare, such as the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Urban Institute, estimate that such an expansion would cost Louisiana more than a billion dollars over the first 10 years.
Gov. Jindal proceeds to describe how awful and inefficient Medicaid is--nevermind that states, and not the federal government, operate Medicaid programs and that states have enormous flexibility in setting the parameters of the program. But let's take Gov. Jindal's point at face value, Medicaid is far from perfect.

Gov. Jindal overlooks an even bigger problem--hundreds of thousands of low-income households without insurance. The same Kaiser Family Foundation and Urban Institute report that he cites indicates that up to 398,000 low-income Louisianans (about one out of every 12 Lousianans) will gain health insurance through the Medicaid expansion in the next ten years and that the expansion will reduce the percentage of Louisianans without health insurance by up to 60 percent.

Gov. Jindal's prescription for hundreds of thousands of his state's citizens is to continue to go without health insurance while he (and other Republican governors and state houses) defer and delay.

Low-income uninsured households need to be part of the discussion.