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Washington, DC-Today, Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (LA-02) sent the following letter to Governor Bobby Jindal:
Dear Governor Jindal:
As you are aware, the United States Supreme Court recently upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), with Chief Justice John Roberts offering the majority opinion. This decision by the highest court of the land is a victory for Louisiana families, as well as small businesses. This decision affirmed every Louisianan’s right, regardless of income, to quality, affordable healthcare.
The ACA is already yielding positive results here in Louisiana. More than 53,000 young adults between the ages of 18 and 26 have gained coverage as a result of being able to remain on their parents’ insurance plans. 275,000 Louisiana women now have access to free preventive services, including mammograms, bone density scans and cervical cancer screenings. Seniors in Louisiana have saved more than $53.8 million on prescription drug coverage. More than 60,000 small businesses in Louisiana are now eligible for tax credits to make health coverage for their employees more affordable. Despite these positive developments, I am concerned that your recently announced decision related to ACA’s Medicaid expansion could endanger the powerful benefits of this law for hundreds of thousands of Louisianans.
I strongly urge you to reconsider your decision to “opt out” of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion provisions. Under the ACA, states are given the opportunity to expand their Medicaid program to include non-elderly adults with income 133 percent below the federal poverty level, $30,657 for a family of four. In our state, this equates to roughly 400,000 Louisianans that would be newly eligible to receive much needed coverage. Although you have stated your intent to reject the federal funds for this expansion, I am sure we can agree that we have a common objective to better the lives of the people of our state. Rejecting these funds would be antithetical to our objective of fighting for our constituents.
Currently, there are approximately 750,000 Louisiana residents who lack health insurance, including 1 in 4 non-elderly adults. Low income families will have no viable plan to obtain coverage if you reject federal assistance. Not only are you choosing to reject coverage for hundreds of thousands of individuals in Louisiana, but your decision comes on top of the current Medicaid restrictions in our state, some of the strictest in the nation. The federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs of covering those eligible for the expansion in 2014, 2015, and 2016; 95 percent in 2017; 94 percent in 2018; 93 percent in 2019; and 90 percent in 2020 and thereafter. To be honest, Louisiana cannot afford to opt out of the expansion.
Expanding Louisiana’s Medicaid program will help many needy individuals and will also boost our economy while providing financial stability to our deserving health care providers. According to the Louisiana Hospital Association, 19 percent of Louisiana hospital revenues are attributable to Medicaid. Overall business activity amounts to $27.1 billion annually. Each dollar of hospital spending supports another .95 of additional economic activity and creates 1.4 jobs. If you chose to accept the Medicaid expansion, thereby relieving our health providers and hospitals of uninsured patients, you will generate more money for our state, create more jobs for those who provide goods and services to the health industry and most importantly create a healthier Louisiana.
I am calling upon you to change course, uphold your sworn oath, and allow for 400,000 Louisianans who are fighting through these tough economic waters to be covered by the Affordable Care Act. Also, I would like to remind you that these are individuals, community leaders, activists, former public servants, parents and grandparents. They are real people with real struggles.
This is a defining moment for the struggling families in the state of Louisiana, but it’s also a defining moment for us as leaders. We need to stand together to make life easier for the people of Louisiana; it is a duty that we both share. Opting out of this expansion would severely burden our citizens that need help the most. It will place an unnecessary strain on our health professionals and hospitals in terms of uncompensated care costs. Please look beyond the politics of this matter to see the people that will be impacted by your decision. I look forward to working with you to make sure that the constituents we both care about are protected.
Cedric L. Richmond
Member of Congress