Gov. Edwards celebrates 5-year Medicaid expansion

Louisiana

Gov. John Bel Edwards. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Five years ago today, Gov. Edwards expanded Medicaid coverage for the hard-working, low-income families across Louisiana that continue to save lives, jobs, and reduce the number of uninsured Louisianans.

According to the governor’s office, more than 600,000 citizens are benefitting from access to quality healthcare that many have never been able to afford.

Gov. Edwards first adopted Medicaid expansion in 2016 as his first official act as governor, making Louisiana the first state in the Deep South to participate.

This expansion of healthcare coverage has dramatically changed the landscape for vulnerable communities and the healthcare sector for the better, and it has provided a critical safety net during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.

“As I have said many times before, adopting Medicaid expansion was the easiest big decision I have made,” Gov. Edwards said.

“Providing access to quality health insurance for so many of our people who were working day in and day out but simply couldn’t afford to take care of themselves was a top priority for me and remains so to this day. Especially given the incredible difficulties brought on by the pandemic, I cannot imagine what would have happened to our people had it not been for expansion. It has literally saved lives, jobs, kept our tax dollars at home, significantly lowered the number of uninsured Louisianans, and helped keep our rural hospitals open. It was the right decision then and it remains the right decision for our families and state.”

Prior to expansion, Medicaid eligibility for adults in Louisiana had not changed since 2013, leaving most childless adults ineligible for coverage, regardless of how low their incomes were.

The new coverage allowed residents to use their insurance to visit a primary care doctor for an annual check-up, get prescriptions, and maintain wellness visits and health screenings. The positive health benefits Louisiana residents have had over the past five years include:

  • An average of 72% of adults enrolled have visited a doctor’s office during each year of Medicaid expansion
  • More than 105,000 women have been screened for breast cancer
  • Over 63,000 adults have received colon cancer screenings
  • About 100,000 adults have been diagnosed and provided opportunities for treatment for either diabetes or hypertension

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