NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Debate over the best way to get people the health care they need intensifies, with Gov. John Bel Edwards calling his decision to expand Medicaid coverage to low income adults a no-brainer.
He made that comment the same day Congress took a step toward repealing the Affordable Care Act
Edwards visited University Medical Center to mark the one-year anniversary of his decision to expand Medicaid coverage to low-income residents. He said it was the easiest decision he ever made.
"It is working in ways I never imagined, and it's working beyond my wildest dreams," he said.
Since accepting the terms of the Affordable Care Act for Louisiana, Edwards said 378,000 people have signed up, many receiving life-saving care.
"I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and I didn't know it until the tumor burst," said one newly insured woman who gave her name as Phyllis. She said with coverage, she has been getting the care she needed.
Now, many worry about the program being gutted in Congress.
"It's scary. I think about it all the time, it's scary," said Ricky Myles, who never had insurance until the state expanded Medicaid coverage.
Shortly after signing up, he learned he had cancer in his lungs, liver and lymph nodes, but now, most has gone away.
"I have one more treatment left, and I hope to God I don't have to do anymore," said Myles.
The state says more than 5,000 women have had breast screenings under the expanded coverage, and 63 found they had breast cancer. Another 4,470 adults had colonoscopies. The governor said such preventative care extends life and keeps people out of expensive emergency rooms. And he said even he recently benefited from such care.
"This hits close to home for me. I just turned 50 two weeks ago, I had my first colonoscopy," Edwards said. "There were six polyps, three pre-cancerous. That shouldn't be available to just the governor."
Now, all eyes are on Congress to see what emerges from talk to gut Obamacare, with some fearing a return to the past.
"You had diabetics who went to a hospital to have something cut off because they weren't managing their diabetes correctly," said Sen. J.P. Morrell (D-New Orleans).
If Congress does away with the Affordable Care Act without finding a substitute, he said the consequences in Louisiana will be dire, but he said that will be a situation we will have to deal with when the time comes.