As state officials announce that Louisiana’s spending on Medicaid will likely make up about half the budget in 2018, state Rep. John Schroder says, “This is growing uncontrollably.” And other Medicaid developments from Iowa, Wisconsin and Kentucky make news.

New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Medicaid Could Make Up Close To Half Of Louisiana’s State Budget

Spending on Medicaid is likely to make up close to half of Louisiana’s total state operating budget in the next fiscal cycle, though most of the money will come from the federal government and not state tax dollars. The Medicaid program is expected to cost the state around $13.4 billion in the fiscal year that begins July 1 — approximately 50 percent of the $28.6 billion state budget proposal Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration has outlined. (O’Donoghue, 4/5)

The Associated Press:
GOP Lawmakers Take Aim At Louisiana Medicaid Spending Growth

Republicans on the House budget-writing committee Wednesday questioned the spending growth in Louisiana’s Health Department, taking aim at plans to pump another $2 billion in federal money into Medicaid. … “This is growing uncontrollably,” said Rep. John Schroder, a Republican from Covington. Health Secretary Rebekah Gee pushed back against the criticism, saying the budget has grown because Louisiana is offering Medicaid coverage to more people, particularly through the Medicaid expansion. The expansion largely has been financed with federal money, and she said it’s helping people get better health care. (Deslatte, 4/5)

Des Moines Register:
Hospitals Doubt Branstad Claim Medicaid Privatization Has Cut Hospitalizations 54%

Hospital leaders expressed bewilderment Wednesday at the governor’s claim that the number of Iowa Medicaid members being admitted to hospitals had dropped by more than half since private management companies began running the program a year ago. Gov. Terry Branstad’s office made the claim in a press release trumpeting the success of his controversial decision to hire private companies to run the $4 billion Medicaid program. Branstad contends the switch, which took effect last April, is saving money by keeping members healthier.  Wednesday’s press release from his office claimed that under Medicaid managed care, “hospital admissions are down 54 percent overall.” (Leys, 4/5)

The Associated Press:
Walker Medicaid Director Defends Drug Testing

Gov. Scott Walker’s Medicaid director defended his plan to test Medicaid recipients for drugs, telling lawmakers Wednesday he believed it would be constitutional despite opponents who say it’s clearly illegal. Instead of accepting federal money to expand Medicaid coverage to people earning 38 percent more than the poverty level, Walker is instead pursuing plans to move people out of Medicaid with the intent of reducing costs. Walker later this month plans to ask President Donald Trump’s administration to approve a waiver allowing for childless adults on Medicaid to be tested for drugs. (Bauer, 4/5)

Kaiser Health News:
CMS Chief To Sit Out Watershed Decision On Medicaid Work Mandate In Kentucky

Seema Verma, the former health policy consultant now overseeing Medicare and Medicaid for the Trump administration, will not take part in one of her agency’s most anticipated decisions because of a conflict of interest. The case concerns whether to allow Kentucky to become the first state in the nation to require some Medicaid recipients to work to qualify for health coverage. (Galewitz, 4/5)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.