Baton Rouge, La – Matthew Guidry of Opelousas, Louisiana, is one of thousands of Louisiana residents who is now getting care because of Medicaid expansion. Guidry, who has lived with sickle cell anemia almost all of his life, looked to the local emergency room for care. Although he could get relief for his pain there, it was much more difficult to find someone to treat his ongoing vision problems.

When coverage became available in Louisiana under the newly expanded Medicaid program in July, Guidry applied for coverage and selected UnitedHealthcare* as his Medicaid health plan. He now has a primary care physician who can provide all of the necessary care for his sickle cell disease including infection prevention, pain management and care that can prevent organ damage.

“Because of the coverage I now have through Medicaid expansion, I was also able to get two eye surgeries that were needed to reattach my retina,” Guidry said. “I am grateful to now have the coverage that is helping improve my vision and manage my sickle cell disease.”

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, more than 34,500 adults have now received at least one preventive or primary care service after getting coverage thanks to expansion. The most recent data provides this picture of the benefits of Medicaid coverage that began for adults in July:

  • Over 38,500 members have received preventative care visits with a care provider.
  • 3,565 women have completed important screening and diagnostic breast imaging such as mammograms, MRIs and ultrasounds, and 45 women diagnosed with breast cancer as a result of this imaging.
  • Over 3,000 adults had colonoscopies; and 786 patients had precancerous polyps removed.
  • Treatment has begun for almost 600 adults newly diagnosed with diabetes.
  • Nearly 1,500 patients have been newly diagnosed with hypertension.
  • During flu season, more than 6,300 new members have received a flu shot.

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the total enrollment for the Healthy Louisiana program has now reached another milestone with 351,631 new members.

“As we had hoped, Medicaid expansion is leading to better health outcomes for hardworking Louisianans who previously did not have coverage,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “Before expansion, some of our sickest, most vulnerable citizens, the majority of whom work every day, could not afford health insurance. Consequently, they either did not seek the medical attention they needed or visited hospital emergency rooms for care. That led to many being diagnosed late when care is the most

expensive and the prognosis is poor. Thanks to Medicaid expansion more people are getting their health needs met and our state is realizing significant savings in health care costs. ”   

Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health, said more adults are now seeking and receiving life-changing care in the most appropriate setting. “As shown by Mr. Guidry’s story, Medicaid expansion is making a difference in people’s lives,” she said.

Secretary Gee added that while ongoing enrollment is important, “We are focused on the all-important step of assuring those who now have coverage, such as Mr. Guidry, make an appointment with a primary care doctor. Not only will they be getting the most appropriate care, there is a cost benefit when people get care from their primary care doctor instead of in the emergency room.”

The program has a goal of covering 375,000 adults, and should reach this target early next year. To track enrollment and preventive data, the Department of Health has developed a dashboard tool on its Healthy Louisiana website, http://ldh.la.gov/healthyladashboard/. The dashboard shows total enrollment, enrollment by parish, by age and gender, and lives impacted by expansion and access to health care.

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state residents. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.ldh.la.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's Twitter account and Facebook.

UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group company, serves more than 770,000 people throughout Louisiana, including more than 400,000 people enrolled in Medicaid health plans, with a care provider network more than 13,000 physicians and other care providers and more than 160 hospitals and other care facilities statewide.

*News Media – to contact Mr. Matthews about his care and coverage, contact Jocelyn Parker of UnitedHealthcare at jocelyn.parker@uhc.com

###