Budget proposal threatens medicaid funding, Gov. Edwards responds

Budget proposal threatens medicaid funding, Gov. Edwards responds
Gov. John Bel Edwards (Source: KPLC)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - There will more than $500 million in cuts to health care which could be detrimental the 40,000 Medicaid recipients in the state.

Many think Gov. John Bel Edwards is to blame.

With thousands of Louisianans on the verge losing health care coverage, it's a blame game between the governor and Republican lawmakers about the current budget proposal.

Rep. Lance Harris says, "This is an unnecessary political scare tactic done to intimidate and frighten the most vulnerable people into believing they will be kicked out on the street if the governor doesn't get everything he wants in the form of revenue."

Edwards says, "The reality of the situation is inaction for two straight years, they have not passed a single bill in two years to deal with a cliff that we knew was coming."

Governor Edwards says there's currently not enough revenue to fund critical priorities like healthcare, which is why he wants lawmakers to consider extending the existing sales tax. "I don't even look at it as raising taxes. The tax burden on the state of Louisiana can go down by 400 million dollars comparing this year to next, and we will adequately fund all of these priorities. That's why they should do it," says Edwards.

But some Republicans say there is enough to fund healthcare.

Rep. Cameron Henry says,  "I think LDH absolutely has the resources right now to fund the programs if they chose to make it a priority today."

Edwards says that isn't the case. "When you have so-called leaders in the legislature going out and saying Edwards has all the money he needs in the Department of Health if he really wants to keep those hospitals open and those medical schools open, " says Edwards,  "Look, it's just not so, but we can have what we need. We can and should reduce the net tax burden on the state of Louisiana by 400 million dollars and we will fund our critical priorities."

Edwards says he expects the regular session to adjourn next Friday and then he will call a special session to focus solely on for the budget.

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