Medicaid expansion debate gets heated

Photo provided by FOX44 Staff.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - 8:00pm

The idea of taking more Medicaid dollars from the federal government has many up in arms.

"What are we waiting for? Everybody up here knows the significance of the fact that there are more than 400,000 thousand people here in the state of Louisiana who do not have healthcare,” stated state representative Barbara Norton. “We already know that!"

While lawmakers fought it out, people like Angelina Isles sat nervously, watching to see the outcome.

"Legislators need to sit with somebody who has a real story and let them tell their story, and then they will realize that they're doing more harm than good,” said Isles. “Those that vote ‘no’ to this, I can say to them, I am going to do all I can to make sure they're never reelected again."

Isles says her brother, who is partially paralyzed from a stroke, needs the law to go through.

"I've had to live without water in my house, because it's either pay the water bill or buy heart medication,” stated Isles.

Many, including the Department of Health and Hospitals, are more reluctant to jump into the plan this early in the game.

"We continue to not have a clear line of sight on many important elements that could have a significant impact on the cost of expanding Medicaid in Louisiana, " stated Interim DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert.

Some projections estimate expansion could save the state hundreds of thousands of dollars, but the majority of the committee agreed though there are too many unknowns.

"You say at any time we can opt out,” stated Representative Lenar Whitney. “I caution you, this is not the time to enter into an agreement with this. I would caution that we should wait. There's no reason to enter in to this agreement today."

"I don't think you can tell me, or anyone in this room can tell me, what's in the Affordable Care Act, and that scares me,” agreed Representative Kenneth E. Havard. “I don't have a clue!"

The senate committee heard testimony on this as well, but they decided to wait on a decision and discuss it some more next week.

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