Expanded Medicaid enrollment starting, more than 40,000 locals qualify

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BATON ROUGE, La. (The Daily Advertiser) – Wednesday begins enrollment for 375,000 Louisiana residents, including more than 40,000 living in Acadiana, who qualify under the Medicaid expansion.

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced plans to begin to extend Medicaid to low-income residents in January. Since then, regional offices have been flooded with inquiries about eligibility, Carol Stephens, the Medicaid Regional Administrator, told The Daily Advertiser on Tuesday.

“The majority of our enrollments are through the application centers and people coming into the office,” she said. “When they call in, we encourage them to go online because the turnaround is a lot quicker, but we will take them as they walk in to either our office or to a health unit and any of the application centers in the Acadiana Region.”

Twenty-two health care facilities in Lafayette and seven surrounding parishes will act as application assistance locations beginning Wednesday. Those eligible should be able to receive benefits by July 1.

Stephens said nearly 14,000 people are eligible for Medicaid in Lafayette alone.

The state Department of Health and Hospitals recently received federal approval to use data from the SNAP food stamp program application to qualify applicants for Medicaid.

Those eligible must be between 19 and 64 years old have an individual household income below $16,395 per year or an annual household income for a family of four at $33,534.

Medicaid covers vision care, laboratory and X-ray services, mental health and substance abuse treatment, prescription medication, maternity care and hospital and emergency services.

During his second term, former Gov. Bobby Jindal opposed Louisiana’s participation in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which provides for Medicaid expansion for states. Many critics called it a political move against President Barack Obama, denying services that are already paid for by Louisiana taxpayers.

Edwards has been promoting the expansion program, called “Healthy Louisiana,” for weeks. During his visit to Lafayette last month, he said the program will save the state $184 million.

About 70 percent of those eligible for Medicaid are full-time employees, Edwards said.

“They work in construction; they work in retail; they work in food service — you name it. But they are without health insurance,” he said.

Visit www.healthy.la.gov or call 1-888-342-6207 to enroll or to locate an application assistance location.DHH breakdown of estimated Medicaid enrollment per parishLafayette Parish: 13,500St. Martin Parish: 5,750St. Landry Parish: 8,000Iberia Parish: 6,000Vermilion Parish: 3,860Acadia Parish: 4,500

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