Bobby Jindal
Gov. Bobby Jindal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Robert Mann

It wasn’t so long ago that Gov. Bobby Jindal declared his concern for Louisiana’s working poor without health insurance – and he proposed an innovative program to help them.

“Louisiana is last in health care outcomes, we have far too many people with no health insurance at all, and this system will not improve on its own,” Jindal said in November 2008. “We have to take action to improve our health care system, provide more access to health insurance for our people.”

Jindal’s solution was “Louisiana Health First,” which would have expanded Medicaid for roughly 60,000 parents and caretakers of Medicaid-eligible children.

Jindal also proposed a federal-state demonstration program in several regions of Louisiana to use federal funds to expand Medicaid to more than 100,000 people through private provider networks. The plan would have covered individuals who earned up to 200 percent of the federal poverty rate (then about $42,000 for a family of four). Those with earnings between 200 percent and 350 percent of the poverty rate (up to about $74,000 for a family of four) could have enrolled in Medicaid if they paid a portion of the premium, depending on income level.

Under terms Jindal proposed to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Louisiana would have borne 30 percent of the program’s cost. “Expanding coverage makes economic sense,” Jindal’s Department of Health and Hospitals said at the time. “The state’s plan to cover up to 106,000 additional persons allows the state to draw more federal support by matching 30 cents in state funds to every 70 cents contributed by the federal government. This is a good return.”

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