Report: Many La. residents with mental illness uninsured

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An estimated 163,000 Louisiana residents with mental illnesses remain uninsured because the state won’t expand its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, according to a study released Wednesday by the American Mental Health Counselors Association.

“Dashed Hopes, Broken Promises, More Despair: How the Lack of State Participation in the Medicaid Expansion Will Punish Americans With Mental Illness” found that 6.7 people with mental illnesses, many of them severe, are eligible for coverage under the Medicaid Expansion that became effective Jan. 1. But 55 percent of those people won’t get the chance to obtain coverage because half of the states, like Louisiana, aren’t expanding Medicaid.

The federal government will cover 100 percent of the costs to expand Medicaid for the first three years of the program and reduce that to 90 percent by 2020 and thereafter.

However, Gov. Bobby Jindal has said expanding Medicaid would prove too expensive once federal support for the expansion wanes.

The study found that 2.7 million adults, or nearly 75 percent of all uninsured people with a mental health condition or substance use disorder, who are eligible for coverage live in 11 Southern states that have rejected the Medicaid Expansion: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.