Since 2009, Louisiana and seven other states have been using a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to make Medicaid more accessible to those who are eligible.
The state Department of Health and Hospitals has worked to upgrade the Medicaid enrollment process by making changes like moving away from a paper-only system so that now people can sign up online or by phone.
DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert said these changes have caused the “churn rate” -- or number of people who forget to re-establish their eligibility and fall off the Medicaid rolls -- to go from 22 percent to about 2 percent.
The grant has also allowed the state to enroll more Medicaid-eligible children. Kliebert said now just by checking a box when registering for Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program benefits, parents can also enroll their children into Medicaid.
"By doing that we caught another percentage of children that we had not previously been able to catch in terms of eligibility," said Kliebert. "So there were about six percent of children without health insurance and about 73 percent of them were eligible for enrollment."
Kliebert said these utilization increases are build into the state budget.
"So for this coming year we have it in our budget to serve those individuals," said Kliebert.
After being on an upward trend since Hurricane Katrina, Kliebert said the number of Louisianians enrolling into Medicaid stabilized last year. She said even though Louisiana is not expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, the state anticipates another enrollee increase after the healthcare exchanges are implemented on October 1. Kliebert said the grant upgrades will help the state take on that increase.
Kliebert said the most important goal is to help individuals who are eligible for Medicaid services to stay on the rolls.
"This helps us in terms of health outcomes, it helps us in terms of individuals getting services that they are eligible for always without interruption," said Kliebert.