Baton Rouge - Gov. John Bel Edwards sent a letter to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy as Congress begins to consider health care reform. Majority Leader McCarthy solicited input from the nation’s governors on possible alternatives to the Affordable Care Act.  In the governor’s letter, he expresses his willingness to work with Congress to preserve what is working and fix what is broken with our nation’s health care system.

“To begin, I must stress that the expansion of Medicaid is working in Louisiana,” said Gov. Edwards in the letter. “In just six months, nearly 375,000 Louisianans have gained health care coverage. For the very first time in our state’s history, we are able to deliver primary care and better health outcomes for our working people. Since July 1st of last year:

  • Nearly 47,000 patients have had a primary care visit or received a preventive health service;
  • 4,500 women have been screened for breast cancer, and 58 have been diagnosed and received treatment;
  • 4,000 people have received a colon cancer screening, more than 1,000 had a potentially cancerous polyp removed, and 45 were diagnosed with cancer that can now be treated;
  • 850 people have been newly diagnosed with diabetes; and
  • 2,000 people have been newly diagnosed with hypertension and are getting care.

Gov. Edwards added, “The evidence is clear that Medicaid expansion has already been life-changing and life-saving for thousands of Louisianans. Here in Louisiana, we are focused on improving reforms and building on the success of Medicaid expansion by partnering with providers to find ways to reform payments, improve quality and create a high-value health system. Block grant repeals of Medicaid expansion would undermine those efforts and further exacerbate our budget crisis.”

Expansion has been a benefit to states like Louisiana struggling with budget difficulties. Upon taking office last year, Gov. Edwards was faced with a nearly $2 billion deficit. The state realized a $184 million savings through expansion in the first fiscal year, and is projected to save as much as $330 million next year by reducing funding on inefficient charity care programs and redirecting resources toward primary care. 

Click here to read the letter.