By “it” I mean expand Medicaid. What’s Texas’ excuse if that happens?
Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter on Monday left open the possibility of expanding Louisiana’s Medicaid program to cover more of the working poor.
Vitter, a candidate for governor and ardent critic of the health overhaul championed by President Barack Obama, said he’s not opposed to accepting the billions of federal dollars if Louisiana can improve the performance of its Medicaid program rather than expand “a pretty broken system.”
“We need to improve and reform Medicaid, and I want to look at everything that could be brought to bear to do that. Now, could more federal resources help to do that? They could, if it’s done right and if it’s done in a constructive way,” he told the Press Club of Baton Rouge.
He said the expansion must not draw state resources away from other spending priorities like higher education, nor build “disincentives for able-bodied folks to work.”
“We welcome the senator to the conversation about covering more than 240,000 uninsured Louisianians. It’s a shame that he waited until after (the legislative) session to make his opinions known,” state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, chairwoman of the Louisiana Democratic Party, said in a written statement.
Vitter’s willingness to consider Medicaid expansion stands in contrast to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s staunch opposition to the idea. The state’s current Republican governor has refused to consider any such proposals, and lawmakers recently killed several expansion bills.
To be clear, I have no reason to believe in David Vitter, who has done very little of merit in his legislative career. Lord only knows what conditions he might impose on accepting those filthy federal funds, and Lord only knows what kind of dealmaking might be needed to get this through Louisiana’s legislature. Even if one believes that Vitter is sincere, we’re a long, long way from anything happening. But just the fact that he’s willing to talk about it means something, and this will be very much worth watching. If this does eventually happen, three of the four states that border Texas will have taken the plunge. One can only hope that it will eventually be contagious. dKos has more.