Louisiana’s New Governor Signs an Order to Expand Medicaid

On Tuesday, his second day in office, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed an executive order expanding Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, fulfilling a campaign promise that will expand health coverage to hundreds of thousands of people in one of the nation’s poorest states.

The action by Mr. Edwards, a Democrat, under President Obama’s health care law was expected to be one of the most significant and immediate results of his election in November, when he defeated Senator David Vitter, a Republican whose campaign was tainted by a prostitution scandal.

Mr. Edwards, the only Democratic governor in the Deep South, in some ways ran as a conservative Democrat, opposing abortion and gun restrictions. But he has also vowed to address the plight of the roughly one in five Louisiana residents who live in poverty, according to federal census figures.

“We are consistently ranked one of the poorest and unhealthiest states, and this cycle will not be broken as long as anyone in Louisiana has to choose between their health and their financial security,” Mr. Edwards said Tuesday at a signing event at the Louisiana Capitol. He was flanked by health care industry representatives and a handful of the 300,000 working-class Louisiana residents who he said would be newly eligible forMedicaid when the expanded coverage takes effect on July 1.

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