Louisiana Governor issues statement on GOP health care bill

Andrew Green

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards released a statement on June 22 on the Senate GOP’s health care bill unveiled that same day.

Edwards, a Democrat, opened his statement by saying, “We can all agree that the Affordable Care Act needs improvements in a number of areas.  However, an initial review of this legislation raises several red flags for the state of Louisiana.”

One of the “red flags” for Edwards in what has been referred to as an “Obamacare overhaul” is the dismantling of Medicaid.

Edwards said this “will leave the 428,000 working poor in Louisiana who are covered under expansion with nowhere to turn for coverage.”  Edwards also noted that much of the bill’s drafting was done secretly and with little to no input.

"It’s hard to imagine the United States Senate voting on a piece of legislation of such significance without properly vetting the potential outcomes and receiving public input,” he said.  “Not a single hearing is scheduled on this bill before the Senate votes.  I’ve joined Republican and Democratic governors from across the nation in asking the Senate leadership for a more open, inclusive and bipartisan approach to health care reform.”

According to the release from the Governor’s office, Edwards joined Governors John R. Kasich (R-Ohio), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Steve Bullock (D-Mont.), Charles Baker (R-Mass.), Brian Sandoval (R-Nev.) and Tom Wolf (D-Pa.) urging the U.S. Senate to consider a bipartisan approach to health care reform.

The letter, addressed to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, reads: 

While we certainly agree that reforms need to be made to our nation’s health care system, as Governors from both sides of the political aisle, we feel that true and lasting reforms are best approached by finding common ground in a bipartisan fashion. 

“To that end, we remain hopeful that there is an opportunity to craft solutions to these challenges that can find support across party lines, delivering improvements to result in a system that is available and affordable for every American.

The letter states that these potential improvements should be based on a set of guiding principles, including: improved affordability, restoring stability to insurance markets, providing state flexibility and encourage innovation and improving the regulatory environment.

“We stand ready to work with you and your colleagues to develop a proposal that is fiscally sound and provides quality, affordable coverage for our most vulnerable citizens.”

Edwards then defended his expansion of Medicaid in the June 22 press release stating that in Fiscal Year 2017, Louisiana saved an estimated $200 million from expanding Medicaid, and in the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2017, the state is expected to save more than $300 million.

“Without these savings,” Edwards said, “K-12 education, higher education and health care would be forced to shoulder deep cuts in the state budget.”