Screenshot from Janet Mills for Governor campaign ad on health care and expanding Medicaid in Maine.
LOUISIANA – Louisiana’s legislative auditor has released data showing that more than 80% of the state’s Medicaid expansion recipients make too much money to legally qualify for the program, according to the Washington Times.
Providing free health care to that many of the state’s Medicaid recipients is estimated to cost as much as $85 million to the state.
The Washington Times reports that the problem is not confined to Louisiana, but may be higher than other states. A federal inspector general said earlier this year that a sample of California’s Medicaid expansion population showed as many as 25% of that state’s Medicaid expansion population was potentially ineligible for benefits.
The report also says Louisiana’s state budget is being increasingly consumed by Medicaid, with more than 36% of the state budget going toward Medicaid expenditures. Nationally, states spend about $1 out of every $3 on Medicaid.
The data, while relatively small in sample size, provides a significant warning to Governor-elect Janet Mills and the new Democrat majorities in the Maine Legislature. Mills made expanding Medicaid “on day one” a central promise of her campaign and seemingly has the votes in the Legislature to mold the program to her liking.
Governor Paul LePage has resisted the Medicaid expansion, even through a protracted court battle, insisting that the Legislature has not appropriated funds in the state budget for the expansion and often insisting that the Legislature must provide “sustainable” funding for the program, not one-time funds or gimmicks.
Maine previously faced massive budget shortfalls under an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program during the Baldacci era and the great recession when Medicaid spending overran state budget estimates by hundreds of millions of dollars.