Since June 1, the first day Louisianans could sign up for the expanded program, more than 201,000 people have enrolled. The state is well on track to meet its 375,000-enrollee goal, which will save Louisiana an estimated $184 million in the next year.
Those numbers are even more remarkable given the obstacles facing the Edwards administration, namely the refusal of the GOP legislature to fund even one new employee to ease the transition to the expanded program.
“They say that necessity is the mother of invention,” Rebekah Gee, the secretary of Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals, told TPM in an interview last week. “We certainly have had to think long and hard in the first weeks of the administration about how we were going to do it given that it was made clear to us that we were not going to have additional resources.”
Without any additional funding for the roll out — meaning no new state employees, no eligibility workers, nor any other new administrative tool to ensure that Louisianans were taking advantage of the expanded coverage — the state had to depend on the infrastructure of existing social service programs, whose participants were eligible for the Medicaid expansion.
The tactic had the dual advantage of saving the state money while creating an application process that was minimally burdensome for users and administrators alike. It was that creative approach, along with the assistance of non-governmental entities, that likely helped Louisiana achieve the numbers that it did. . .