Gov. Bobby Jindal’s primary argument against expanding Medicaid coverage for hundreds of thousands of uninsured Louisianans is a moot one, according to a recent report from The New York Times.  

                  Medicaid breakdown courtesy of Louisiana Budget Project
Jindal, one of a handful of Republican governors who has vowed to reject Medicaid expansion in 2014 as allowed under the federal Affordable Care Act, has been adamant in his stance that taxpayers in Louisiana will have to pay $3.7 billion over the next 10 years if the state were to opt in to the federal program and add hundreds of thousands of Louisianans to the Medicaid rolls. Many of those residents are the working uninsured who don’t currently qualify for Medicaid under Louisiana’s restrictive guidelines.

The $3.7 billion Jindal has calculated is tied to the law’s requirement that states gradually begin to pay in to the expansion, though it’s worth noting that the feds will cover 100 percent of Medicaid coverage for new recipients for three years, from 2014 to 2016. By 2017, the federal government will cover 95 percent, eventually capping its contribution to 90 percent by 2020.

But what hasn’t been widely reported is that states, according to The New York Times, “are free to reverse the decision [to expand Medicaid] at any time,” which means Louisiana could opt out of the expansion when the federal government stops footing the entire bill.

The Obama administration, in its push for states to participate in the expansion, says “there is no deadline” for expanding Medicaid, though “states would pay a price for delay.”

The program’s expansion would make anyone earning 133 percent less than the federal poverty rate eligible. Based on the state’s current Medicaid eligibility requirements, the annual income for a family of three can be no more than $2,860 — and no, that’s not a typo. Adults without children are also ineligible under the state’s current system.

    Census graph courtesy of Budget Project
According to a recent report prepared by the nonprofit Louisiana Budget Project, Medicaid expansion in Louisiana would raise the annual income eligibility for a family of three to $25,390, or $14,850 for a single person.

Of the estimated 400,000 Louisianans who would become eligible for Medicaid under the 2014 expansion, more than 240,000 have jobs, according to LBP.

With his popularity on the descent, Jindal’s resistance to expanding Medicaid drew ire recently from the state’s ever-popular former-governor Edwin Edwards. Speaking at the fourth annual conference of the Louisiana Retired State Employees Association, the Advocate reports that in his critique, which was infused “with a good dose of Cajun jokes and humor,” Edwards, without saying Jindal’s name, railed on his missteps as governor, one being his stance on expanding Medicaid.

Read more on Medicaid expansion here and here.

For more on Jindal, Edwards and the governor’s “sagging” poll numbers, click here and here.

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