Republicans bristling about the rising price tag of Louisiana's Medicaid program on Tuesday questioned whether the state health department was doing enough to respond to audits that found waste or misspending.

GOP lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee grilled health department officials during a budget hearing. They asked about audits from Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera's office that documented money spent on ineligible services and that suggested millions could have been spent on people who earned too much to receive the government-financed health insurance.

National Council on Aging / National Council on Aging

Older adults may not have complete information about their health insurance.  They may not know where -- or how -- to find correct answers. 

The Senior Health Insurance Information Program  (SHIIP),  a division within the Louisiana Department of Insurance, addresses questions and clarifications relating to Medicare, Medicaid, and long-term care insurance.

Vicky Dufrene, Insurance Manager at the Louisiana Department of Insurance, discussed some of the most common myths and misconceptions relating to senior health insurance.

There will be an effort in the upcoming legislative session to raise the age from 18 to 21-years-old to legally purchase or possess tobacco and vaping products. West Monroe Representative Frank Hoffman says six states and over 400 cities have raised the tobacco age to 21 and the goal is to produce better health outcomes. "We hope they don't start at 21, but it's better to start at 21 than it is to start at 18, while they're still growing," Hoffman states. 

Hoffman’s proposed legislation will be House Bill 38 in the legislative session that begins next month.

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy called Wednesday on Louisiana's health secretary to resign after an audit said her agency may have spent as much as $85 million on Medicaid coverage for people who weren't eligible since Gov. John Bel Edwards expanded the government-financed program.

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In spite of several initiatives over the past six years to prevent early births, defined as a birth that takes place more than three weeks before a due date, a recent report by the March of Dimes shows more work is needed in Louisiana.

Louisiana Department of Health announces that 37,000 medicaid enrollees eligibility may end on July 1, 2018.

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Louisiana's Medicaid expansion program has helped create or support nearly 19,200 jobs across the state and $178 million in state and local taxes.

That's according to an economic analysis done by three LSU professors hired by the state health department to look at the program during the 2016-17 budget year.

The study determined that the infusion of $1.8 billion in federal spending on health care through the Medicaid expansion had a $3.5 billion economic impact in Louisiana.

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Governor John Bel Edwards and state Health Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee unveiled a report on the economic impact of Medicaid expansion. Edwards says according to the LSU report, Louisiana is saving 317-million dollars in state money and providing medical care to those who can’t afford it.


Edwards says, "From a public health perspective, we're saving lives in Louisiana, and we're ensuring that our workforce is healthy and ready to fill the jobs that we're creating all through the state."


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A report from America’s Health Ranking says the rates of maternal mortality and teen suicide have risen over the last two years in Louisiana. UnitedHealthcare Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mark Peters says we are one of the worst states when it comes to taking care of expecting mothers.


Peters says, "We don't have as many mothers getting prenatal care." According to Peters, this is why Louisiana's statistics aren't as good as other states. 


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Medicaid reform legislation was pulled from consideration in the House Health and Welfare Committee before it could be voted on, maintaining the special session’s current run of inaction. The bill would have implemented work requirements for Medicaid recipients. Opelousas Democrat Dustin Miller says the bill was mean spirited and wasteful.


Miller says the proposal was similar to Kentucky’s Medicaid reform that is currently estimated to cost that state roughly 300 million dollars to implement.