Louisiana Healthcare Hieroglyphics

One of the greatest injustices to Louisianans, as with all Americans, is the overt over-complication of public healthcare policies and legislation.

It would seem as though it takes an advanced degree in law and Latin just to begin to fathom the basic workings of new healthcare policies. Such complication leads inevitably to an uninformed public, followed by the ugliest of debates among the various political ideologies within a law-making body. 

While the debate of which healthcare coverage should and should not be covered by tax dollars is an inexhaustible repartee, and I am not here to critique what is covered by law. However, there is a step that should be taken before even beginning the debate over what Louisiana Medicare and Medicaid should cover and that is simplifying public healthcare policy for the common public to understand when the annual debates of cuts and expansions come up in the legislative session. 

The most common topics in the Louisiana Medicare and Medicaid debates are what should be covered, who will be affected by the coverage change, how much the coverage will cost the state and how much the coverage will cost the taxpayer.

As it stands, there is no easy way for the Louisianan — aside from reading raw legislation each year, which can number well over 100 pages when dealing with fiscal affairs — to get an objective understanding of how changes will affect them. 

To highlight the serious concerns of having a public with a precarious understanding of healthcare plans, it is worth noting that vulnerable populations are targeted by politicians constantly. Their fears are stirred into action by those with a political interest who seek cheap votes.

The best example of such cheap politics can be seen in none other than Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. 

In April 2018, Louisiana House Republicans advanced a balanced budget that made necessary cuts to Medicaid funding. Edwards, rather than working with Republicans to create a bipartisan budget, chose to mail roughly 37,000 people letters stating the Republican budget could evict tens of thousands of elderly people from nursing homes. Such tactic by Edwards was met with frantic response from a fearful public.

Indeed, Edwards used fear and the elderly as a political tool to advance his agenda. Had the public known more about their healthcare through simple and accessible resources, such fear would have been mitigated.

If Louisiana residents truly want to serve their fellow people with affordable healthcare, making healthcare policies as understandable as possible to the general public is as paramount to the system as the coverage itself.

It is time for Louisiana to move past the age of being manipulated by demagogues so its inhabitants can comprehend the prices, the coverage and the future of healthcare themselves.  

Brett Landry is a 20-year-old mass communication major from Bourg, Louisiana.

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