The Louisiana Senate Finance Committee killed legislation Thursday that would have allowed people who were pregnant to stay on Medicaid for a year postpartum. The federal government would have had to sign off on the approval before it went into effect.
Currently, people who use Medicaid during their pregnancy lose their health care coverage two months after their pregnancy — unless they qualify for Medicaid in another way.
People who are pregnant can make more money than most Medicaid enrollees and still use the program. They may use Medicaid while pregnant, but make too much money to qualify for government-backed health insurance afterwards. State Rep. Mandie Landry, D-New Orleans, was attempting to fill that gap with this bill.
The Louisiana House voted 95-0 for Landry’s legislation, House Bill 468, but the Senate Finance Committee said the bill was too expensive to approve. Expanding postpartum access would have cost Louisiana between $4.3 million and $4.6 million in state funding annually over the next five years.
The Senate Finance Committee scuttled several other bills — including legislation that would have eased criminal record expungement — because they were deemed too expensive.
The committee did so even though Louisiana has more funding this year than it has since a financial windfall from recovery after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The state has received billions of dollars from the federal government in recent months to help the state rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.
After receiving the federal funding boost, lawmakers voted to spend over $70 million on local earmarks in their budget plan. Those projects include a skate park, town hall renovations, lighting upgrades for certain cities, the installation of “cooling fans” in a neighborhood park and funding for a nonprofit entity created by a sitting senator. Lawmakers have also set aside $15 million next year for technology upgrades at the state Capitol.