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Pelican Institute Serves as a Louisiana Health Care Policy Watchdog

January 8, 2020

Editor’s note: Each month, Health Care News will be profiling a national and state-based public policy organization working to advance freedom in the health care market so that consumers and providers can all be winners.

When Louisiana expanded its Medicaid program in 2016, the Pelican Institute for Public Policy found another target for its vigilance: becoming the watchdog over a program tarnished by reports of waste, fraud, and abuse.

The work has paid off. The organization received national recognition for demanding a full accounting of records when the state claimed the expanded program had a positive impact on the Louisiana economy.

The Pelican Institute believed the state was underreporting “crowd-outs,” people leaving private insurance plans to sign up for free care under Medicaid. When Pelican pushed for better accounting, the state took action that indicated the organization was on to something: It stopped compiling data that would have shed more light on crowd-outs.

Health Care Priority

The Pelican Institute is a Louisiana-focused policy organization that provides research and education on free-market principles and liberty-oriented policy solutions.

Health care is a top priority for the organization, says its vice president for government relations, Renee Amar.

“Citizens need private-sector solutions to their ever-increasing health care costs, and the government definitely needs help due to its poor management of health programs,” said Amar. “The cost of health insurance is a major issue for every citizen, business, and government. We need real solutions to truly lower costs for everyone.”

Amar says the organization’s work has transformed the health care policy debate in the state.

“The biggest change is now Medicaid is a major part of the conversation,” said Amar. “In highlighting the issues with Medicaid expansion, we have received national attention, so now more people are paying attention to waste, fraud, and abuse.”

In addition to Medicaid reform, the organization supports simplifying the state’s tax code and changing the relationship between local and state government as other ways to improve health care.