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Louisiana Says "No" to Medicaid Expansion, People Protest

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MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - The president and federal government want states to expand their Medicaid programs, and they're writing the first check to make that happen.

However, Louisiana's governor and many state lawmakers are concerned the first check could be the last, leaving them with the costs of maintaining something Washington started.

Holding signs, a large check, and speaking with state leaders is how people plan to get their voices heard.

Medicaid activists, Emma West, says "we want them to do the right thing with the Medicaid expansion money."

West is one of many activist speaking out in favor of Medicaid expansion. She says, "once you become disabled, if you were on insurance it stops because you can't afford to continue to pay for it." She knows that feeling all too well. West worked in the Monroe City School System for 19 years, then she became disabled. When she needed a double knee replacement she found herself relying on Medicaid and Medicare.

State Representative Jay Morris says it's not as easy as just taking money from the federal government. He says, "they say we're going to get a 100% paid that could easily change in a year or two. Then the state would have to tax it's citizens to come up with the money. We don't have a printing press here in Louisiana."

Morris says under a Supreme Court decision the federal government cannot force the states to expand Medicaid. So far Louisiana has refused to accept the expansion, and the money.

Morris says, "we're not talking about refusing all Medicaid. We have lot of citizens that use the benefit of Medicaid." Morris says an expansion, is concerning. He says, "quite frankly I do have a concern about roughly half of our state being on government aid."

People like West know how important Medicaid is, and hope they stressed that to state leaders. West says, "it would mean a lot to Louisiana if they would accept it." West and other hope lawmakers take their concerns to Baton Rouge.

The protest is a part of a statewide movement. Activists will be visiting 18 different legislators.

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