Aspiring Senate Democrats Embrace Louisiana’s Medicaid Expansion

Democrats in red states will often try to place distance between themselves and the health care law signed by the president in 2010, but in Louisiana, two candidates for Senate are doing the opposite.

Foster Campbell, a wealthy businessman, and Caroline Fayard both issued statements praising their state on Wednesday – the first day its government began issuing cards for its new Medicaid expansion program, Healthy Louisiana.

“In the U.S. Senate, I will fight to make sure we keep the highest possible federal match rate for our state dollars,” Campbell said in a statement Wednesday. “Today Louisiana will finally end the destructive practice of sending our own tax dollars to other states, and instead we will keep them here to care of our people.”

Fayard said, “This is the kind of smart, compassionate leadership our state needs, both in Baton Rouge and Washington, D.C.”

Medicaid expansion was a major focus of Democrat John Bel Edwards’ successful gubernatorial campaign last fall, after years of opposition from Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal. Edwards is supporting Campbell’s bid.

Louisiana, the 31st state to expand its program, is the first state in the nation to use food stamp eligibility to determine if residents can qualify for the federal health care assistance program for the poor. Some 375,000 residents are due to be enrolled, and the state’s goal is to get half of them cards by July 1.

Campbell is viewed as a competitive candidate in the state’s Nov. 8 “jungle primary.” His opponents include Republicans State Treasurer John Kennedy, retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness, and Reps. Charles Boustany and John Fleming in the race to replace Republican Sen. David Vitter, who is retiring at the end of his term after failing in his bid for governor last fall. If nobody receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the race will go to a runoff.

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