Louisiana Medicaid Expansion Receives an Overwhelming Response

The state has enrolled more than 278,000 people in Healthy Louisiana since July 1.

Healthy Louisiana, the state’s Medicaid program, recently announced its enrollment has surpassed 278,000 new enrollees since they expanded the program on July 1, 2016.

The state’s goal was to cover 375,000 people by next June, which they will likely exceed, according to a press release from the Louisiana Department of Health.

“We are improving lives in Louisiana by providing our working poor access to health coverage they’re already paying for with their federal tax dollars,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “Louisiana is receiving national attention for the innovative ways we’re getting citizens covered. I hear from folks every day who say that Medicaid Expansion is saving lives, and, while we have much more work to do, I couldn’t be happier with where things stand today.”

Younger people aged 25- to 39-years-old made up more than 111,400 of new enrollees. They reported that females were more likely to sign up than men, with 182,832 females newly-enrolled, compared with 95,199 males.

This is likely due to enrollments from the Greater New Orleans Community Health Connection and Take Charge Plus programs, according to the release. Any individuals enrolled in either of these programs were automatically enrolled in the other program, according to the state.

“By linking these programs, individuals only need to fill out one application instead of having to apply for two separate programs,” said Rebekah Gee, MD, secretary of the Department of Health. “This process allows the department to get full applications certified more quickly, thereby reducing the number of staff hours that are needed to process applications.”

The sign ups from the Take Charge Plus program may be a large reason why so many women have been enrolled in Healthy Louisiana. The program provides healthcare coverage for family planning and related services.

Enrollees receive office visits, prescriptions, various forms of birth control, cervical cancer screenings, and various needed services.

Although the response to the expansion has almost surpassed their 11-month goal, officials have stated that the number of sign ups is not as important as how patient health will improve, since they can receive the care they would have likely gone without.

“Today we are measuring enrollment. But, we will soon start to look at how many more women are getting mammograms and lessening their risk of breast cancer,” Gee said. “We’ll look at the number of people who can see their primary care doctor instead of an emergency room. These are truly the measures that save lives and lead to better health.”