(The Center Square) – Louisiana legislators have voted to form a joint committee of both houses focused solely on Medicaid oversight.
The state’s Medicaid program, funded by federal and state tax dollars, makes up close to half of Louisiana’s $30-billion-plus state budget. House Concurrent Resolution 6, which the state Senate adopted without objection Thursday, establishes the Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee to monitor the program.
The committee will include 12 members, six from each body, drawn from existing committees focused on spending and health care. It would not have any authority the existing committees don’t have.
Critics of the idea say it only adds more bureaucracy to state government. But Rep. Rick Edmonds, the Baton Rouge Republican who sponsored the measure, said it could allow the participating legislators to become more familiar with the complex program and provide more focused oversight, alleviating some of the work for the existing committees.
Edmonds tried to pass a similar resolution last year, which the House of Representatives approved before the Senate Health and Welfare Committee voted it down.
Concurrent resolutions express the will of both houses and are not subject to a governor’s veto.
Shortly after taking office, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed an executive order expanding Medicaid in the state under the Affordable Care Act. The Edwards administration has touted that expansion, saying nearly half a million more Louisiana residents are now insured because of it.
Conservative groups have criticized enrollment under the expansion, however. The New Orleans-based, free market Pelican Institute published a report last year on its findings that tens of thousands of ineligible residents in the state received Medicaid under ACA expansion, including more than 1,600 individuals earning more than $100,000 annually.
Using data from the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), the report also estimated that between 3,000 and 5,000 people every month left their private health insurance plans to obtain taxpayer-funded Medicaid through the state.
The legislature’s pandemic-shortened regular session ends at 6 p.m. Monday, though a special session will begin immediately afterward.