The number of Louisiana residents without health insurance is falling, even as the national uninsured rate grew last year.
New data released today from the Census Bureau shows 8% percent of people in Louisiana, or 363,000 residents, didn’t have health insurance coverage in 2018, edging down from 8.4% a year earlier. That’s 19,000 fewer people in the state who are uninsured.
However, the national uninsured rate grew from 8.7% to 8.9% over the same period, driven primarily by enrollment in Medicaid dropping by 0.7%.
On the flip side, Census Bureau data also shows that while the U.S. poverty rate is declining, it’s ticking higher in Louisiana, which now has the highest poverty rate in the nation, according to the two- and three-year averages cited in the report.
The national poverty rate is at its lowest level since 2001, sitting at an average of 12% for 2017-18 two-year period, down from 13.1% the two years prior. In Louisiana, though, poverty increased by 0.4%, rising to a 19.8% average for 2017-2018 when compared to the two years prior.
Louisiana’s rising number of insured residents is largely driven by the state’s Medicaid expansion program, which was enacted by Gov. John Bel Edwards in 2016 and gives taxpayer-financed health insurance coverage to 460,000 people.
Edwards praised the statistics, saying Louisiana is “moving in the right direction when it comes to the quality of health—and life.” He made no mention in his press release of the state’s poverty numbers, which were included in the same report.
Republicans criticize Edwards’ management of the expansion, though, citing state audits that suggest millions wasted on coverage for ineligible people.