BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana is becoming the first state in the Republican-dominated Deep South to expand its Medicaid program.

More than 233,000 people — largely the working poor — have been enrolled so far in the government-financed insurance coverage offered under the health law championed by President Barack Obama. The expanded coverage starts Friday.

Medicaid expansion fulfills of one of Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards' main campaign promises.

Those eligible for coverage include adults ages 19 to 64 with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level — about $33,500 for a family of four.

Republican legislative opposition largely disappeared when Edwards issued his executive order laying the groundwork for expansion, which is estimated to save Louisiana $180 million-plus in the new budget year.

 

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