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Mary Landrieu Slams Jindal on Health Care
After seeing Governor Jindal's Sunday appearance on Meet the Press, Senior Senator Mary Landrieu had some harsh words towards Bobby J's stance on Medicaid. The poster boy for conservative politics is telling the feds to keep their money to themselves, a move that Landrieu believes is more in the Gov.'s interest than those of his constituents. At a press conference today, Landrieu accused Bobby J of putting the 2016 presidential election before the interests of his own state.
In 2010, pundits and politicians across the nation discussed the constitutionality of Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Although the Supreme Court upheld “Obamacare,” states can still opt out of the provision of the bill that provides an expansion of Medicaid benefits.
Shortly after the state lost $850 million in Medicaid reimbursements, Jindal indicated that Louisiana would leave the Obamacare Medicaid expansion behind. He did so in the heat of the 2012 presidential campaign, but has since stuck to his initial position.
Landrieu and her team emphasized the effect uninsured citizens have on the state economy. Executive Director of Families USA: the National Organization for Healthcare Consumers Ron Pollack opened up the conference. Pollack emphasized how much money consumers would save if Louisiana were to participate in the program.
“If Louisiana opts into the Medicaid expansion, [we will see] very significant economic benefits for the state,” said Pollack. Over 422,000 Louisiana residents that are currently uninsured would receive coverage if Louisiana were to accept government funding for Medicaid.
Under the existing ten year plan, the feds will cover 100 percent of all Medicaid costs in 2014, 2015, and 2016. In 2017, Louisiana will incur five percent of the burden, and eventually the state will cover ten percent of the total Medicaid costs.
“Traditional Medicaid programs in Louisiana has been provided with the federal government offering 61 cents out of every federal matching dollar,” Pollack went on, “This is very substantial. In the year 2016 alone, the federal government will be providing approximately 1.1 billion dollars in funds to the state’s Medicaid program."
The ACA advocate also explained that under the current system, hospitals and taxpayers are forced to take on the burden of people who cannot afford lifesaving care. Ultimately, Landrieu’s team argues, Medicaid expansion will help small businesses and the state’s economy.
Bobby J is showing no indications that he’ll budge on Medicaid funding, and Senator Landrieu accused the Gov. of “fiscal malpractice.”
“The governor’s obstructionism is really going to hurt the Louisiana Hospital Association, hurt their bottom line, drag on their economy, and [it is] terribly unfair,” said Landrieu. “[Jindal] seems to be adamant about putting his political future ahead of the economic interests of the people of Louisiana. It’s very disheartening to me and a growing number of people in our state,” Landrieu said.
Pollack and fellow healthcare expert, Moriba Karamoko, Founding Director of the Louisiana Consumer Healthcare Coalition, handled the figures while Landrieu preached politics.
“After a while, you wonder, what is driving these decisions?” Landrieu continued, “Is Governor Jindal just trying to check off his box on the Tea Party’s ‘I am the most conservative person in America,’ list?”
In case Landrieu wasn’t clear enough, Pollack came out and said the word "president" in his response to a reporter’s question. Noting that Republican governors such as Jan Brewer of Arizona, Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota, and Rick Snyder of Michigan have all accepted Medicaid through ACA, Pollack suggested Jindal had his own reasons for refusing the extra dough. “Governor Jindal seems to have a different political equation, [he’s more concerned for] running for president and making a good name for himself with right wing voters as opposed to the interests of Louisiana.”
Landrieu and Pollack's accusations about Governor Jindal's motives are highly unusual, and they mark a shift in the discourse surrounding healthcare in Louisiana.
The Governor’s appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, February 24, was very telling. Jindal was firm in his responses to questions concerning Medicaid, but less direct in his answers to questions concerning the 2016 election.
Host David Gregory asked Jindal why he remains steadfast in his refusal despite other governors’ bipartisan tendencies.
“Every governor needs to make the decision that’s best for their state,” said Jindal. “For Louisiana, this will cost taxpayers over a billion dollars over the next ten years,” he said.
Jindal cited a lack of flexibility and unsatisfactory reform as reasons that Louisiana is better off without the feds. Specifically, the Gov has a bone to pick with the 468 exemptions in the Louisiana tax code.
“Government cannot be the answer to all of our problems,” he said. “I do believe that everyone in American should have access to affordable healthcare, but I agree with what the President said in 2009. It doesn’t make sense to put more people in this program [without reforming it],” Jindal said.
When Gregory asked Jindal about rumors of a 2016 run, Jindal responded, “Nobody in the Republican Party should be thinking about running for president, we have to win the debate first,” he said.
Governor Jindal’s office issued a press release responding to Landrieu’s statements. In reaction to the accusation that he is prioritizing national politics over the interests of his constituents, Jindal’s office said, “Senator Landrieu voted to cut Louisiana's Medicaid program by over a billion dollars and now she's worried about Louisiana families? Sounds like she’s gearing up for another campaign.”
According to Jindal’s office, opting out of Medicaid is better for Louisiana’s long term economic health. “The reality is Medicaid relies on an outdated model that costs taxpayers billions of dollars for poor outcomes. Yet, President Obama and his ally, Senator Landrieu, would have you believe that a government program is good for economic development. It’s a fundamental philosophical difference. Senator Landrieu and President Obama believe that growing government will help grow jobs. That’s not how the economy works.”
NoDef received a release from Jindal's office after the original version of the article was published. The article was updated at 5:43pm.
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