BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana will expand its Medicaid program in January to provide coverage to more children with developmental disabilities whose parents made too much money to qualify for the taxpayer-financed insurance under prior eligibility rules.
Federal officials recently approved the plan to broaden the program’s eligibility standards to include certain children under 19 years old with disabilities. Louisiana lawmakers unanimously approved the widened Medicaid coverage in 2019 to give more children access to home- and community-based services.
Applications will start being accepted Saturday.
The new program is estimated to cost $54 million for the first year, with about $9.5 million coming from state dollars and the rest paid with federal financing, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.
Health Secretary Courtney Phillips said in a statement that the new Medicaid eligibility criteria will allow “children to remain in their homes to receive care that will help them thrive.”
To qualify for the Medicaid coverage, a child must have a disability recognized by the supplemental security income program of the Social Security Administration, and their care must cost less at home than in an institution, along with other requirements.
“This is a great day for families with children with disabilities in Louisiana,” Rep. Dodie Horton, the Haughton Republican who sponsored the legislation creating the program, said in a statement. The expansion “will allow these children to avoid long stays in hospitals and get the care they need while living at home in the comfort of their family and friends.”
More information about the four-step application process is available online.
When lawmakers created the program, it carried an estimated $28 million price tag and was expected to cover about 1,600 additional children. Health Department spokesperson Kevin Litten said the initial estimates were based on enacting an enrollment cap, but the agency won’t have a cap on how many children can register for the new program.