BATON ROUGE, La. — The number of Louisiana residents without health insurance is falling, even as the national uninsured rate grew last year.

New data released Tuesday from the Census Bureau shows 8% percent of people in Louisiana, or 363,000 residents, didn't have health insurance coverage in 2018, edging down from 8.4% a year earlier. That's 19,000 fewer people in the state who are uninsured.

The national uninsured rate grew from 8.7% to 8.9% over the same period.

Louisiana's numbers are largely driven by the state's Medicaid expansion program. That program was enacted by Gov. John Bel Edwards in 2016 and gives taxpayer-financed health insurance coverage to 460,000 people.

The state's Democratic governor praised the latest statistics.

Republicans criticize Edwards' management of expansion, citing audits that suggest millions wasted on coverage for ineligible people.

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