The recent mass killings in Tucson, Aurora and Newtown have sparked public conversations about the deficiencies in state-run mental health systems across the United States. But few states are poised to spend their own money to reverse as much as a decade of budget cutbacks in those areas.Louisiana is not presently known for its sterling mental health care system. Nevertheless, our governor, Bobby Jindal, has opted out of the Medicaid expansion which would cover mental health care on conservative principles, but I wonder if he may reconsider. The majority of the citizens of Louisiana are against any sort of regulation of firearms or ammunition, giving as their reason that it's not guns that kill people, but deranged individuals who manage to get their hands on guns who kill people. How about it, members of the NRA in Louisiana? Why not start a campaign to urge the governor to sign on to the expanded Medicaid program that will enable more persons with mental illness to get treatment?
Instead, many of them are counting on an infusion of federal mental-health dollars. Because Medicaid includes mental-health benefits, those states that opt into the Medicaid expansion included in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act will be able to make mental health coverage available to thousands of their citizens who do not now have it.
For the first three years that additional coverage would cost the states nothing: Under terms of the Affordable Care Act, the federal government will cover 100 percent of the costs of new Medicaid enrollees for the first three years and 90 percent after 2020.
The mentally ill deserve the same treatment as those with physical illness, because it's the right thing to do, but whatever your motive behind opting into the Medicaid expansion, just do it, Governor. The Medicaid expansion program would serve a good many people with physical illnesses and offer preventive care. What's not to like? If conservative principles prevent you from giving the citizens of Louisiana services they need, then, in the name of simple compassion for the well-being of the people you serve, you should ditch your principles.
Also, Governor, in the event you hadn't noticed, the line of Republican governors who refuse to participate in the Medicaid expansion program is broken. I expect more Republican governors will decide to adopt the program, so you would not stand alone if you changed your mind. Perhaps you and your good friend Rick Perry (Tweedledum and Tweedledee?) from Texas might have a conversation about a change in policy.
Arizona will participate in the expansion of Medicaid, Gov. Jan Brewer said Monday in her State of the State address, making her the third Republican governor to agree to one of the key components of President Barack Obama's health care reform.
Brewer said that if she did not accept the Medicaid funds for Arizona, other states could claim those federal dollars and create jobs that otherwise would be created in Arizona. Fellow Republican governors Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Brian Sandoval of Nevada also plan to expand Medicaid to anyone who earns up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which is currently $14,856 for an individual.
But 10 other Republican governors have already decided not to participate. The Supreme Court's 2012 ruling that affirmed Obama's health care law allows states to refuse to take part in the Medicaid expansion.