For the past couple of years, many people here in Louisiana have fought to get Medicaid expansion for the hundreds of thousands of folks who desperately needed it. Bobby Jindal turned down the federal funding in hopes that it would score political points with the GOP base for his ultimately doomed presidential campaign.
Political experts predicted that another Republican would replace the term-limited and wildly unpopular Bobby Jindal as the next governor of Louisiana. David Vitter looked like the sure bet to win, and he had an incredible amount of campaign funding to do so.
In a huge political upset, John Bel Edwards, a conservative Democrat, defeated Vitter in a landslide. One of his campaign promises was to expand Medicaid at the very beginning of his tenure in office, and Edwards did that yesterday via executive order.
Edwards has said he wants to have government-funded health insurance cards in more people’s hands by July 1. He says under the expansion, individuals making up to $16,242 per year and $33,465 for families of up to four would be eligible to get Medicaid health insurance, an increase of around 300,000 people.
Edwards said expansion was the “fiscally responsible” thing to do, and said the because the Jindal administration chose not to expand Medicaid the state had missed out on possibly $3 billion in federal health care money.
Louisiana would join 30 other states that have undertaken Medicaid expansions, including several states overseen by Republicans. But expansion efforts have been stymied in most Southern states amid GOP resistance. (Source)
John Bel Edwards is a conservative Democrat, and he’s a far cry from Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. However, in deep-red states like Louisiana, Democrats who don’t necessarily toe the national party line are the best bet to help people who wouldn’t have access to affordable healthcare otherwise.
I understand that he isn’t the ideal candidate for the ideological purists of the left, but John Bel Edwards has given Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of Louisiana residents who would have likely missed out had a Republican been elected.
If you don’t believe this, consider the fact that a conservative Democrat brought health insurance to Kentucky, but now it’s being dismantled by a Tea Party governor who should have never been elected. Many liberals and national grass-roots campaigns ignored the race, because Jack Conway wasn’t the progressive hero that they wanted him to be.
John Bel Edwards won without much national help, until the very end. If Democrats want to win in 2016 and beyond, they must appeal to moderates in states like Louisiana and Kentucky, without sacrificing their core values and resorting to talking points that only play well in liberal media sources that seek to rival Fox News.
This isn’t just about politics, it is about doing the right thing for working class people across our country.
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