First Executive Order Signed by La. Gov. Edwards Expands Medicaid

On Tuesday, Jan. 12, John Bel Edwards signed his first executive order as Louisiana’s new governor to expand Medicaid eligibility to an estimated 300,000 individuals. The expansion is to be effective no later than July 1, 2016 according to the order.

Louisiana becomes the 31st state (plus DC) to expand Medicaid income eligibility as permitted by the Affordable Care Act.

“I don’t look at this as some revolutionary thing — this is just the right thing to do,” Edwards said according to the Baton Rouge Advocate.

Edwards pledged to expand Medicaid during his campaign for governor. The previous governor, Bobby Jindal, had been opposed to expansion. A white paper released in 2013 concluded that Medicaid needed to be reformed before it could be a vehicle for coverage expansion.

Gov. Edwards appointed Dr. Rebekah Gee to serve as secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals. An OB-GYN, she has worked for DHH since 2010. She most recently served as medical director for the Louisiana Medicaid program.

"Under Governor Edwards' direction, we have begun the process of implementing a cost-effective plan to expand Medicaid coverage," Gee told WAFB television. "We are working with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and our partners here in Louisiana to ensure this implementation is done correctly. This is an important step for working families in our state, and we are gratified to see so many of our stakeholders stepping up to assist us in this process."