Lawmakers agree to try out Jindal health plan

Louisiana could become a testing ground for Gov. Bobby Jindal's alternative to the federal healthcare overhaul, under a bill that received final backing from lawmakers Friday.

Democratic Sen. Ben Nevers, of Bogalusa, proposed trying to use Jindal's "America Next" healthcare plan in Louisiana, after lawmakers rejected Nevers' push to expand Medicaid Medicaid as allowed under President Barack Obama's health law.

The House gave final passage to Nevers' rewritten bill with a 94-2 vote.

It calls on the state health department to take the broad outline of the Republican governor's policy statement — which pushes health savings accounts, greater wellness incentives and Medicaid program changes — and put it into a workable plan.

That plan would go to the Legislature for consideration and would most likely need federal waivers to change the way federal healthcare dollars are spent.

Jindal's plan was released as a roadmap for national healthcare change, by a potential presidential candidate who opposes the federal health revamp enacted by Democrats.

"If this plan is good enough for America surely it would be good enough for Louisiana," Nevers told House lawmakers earlier this week.

Nevers' bill requires the Department of Health and Hospitals to submit an outline of a plan by Sept. 1, with a goal of putting it in place in the state by Jan. 1. The Legislature would have decision-making authority over whether it would be enacted, however.

A fiscal analysis said the cost is "indeterminable" because too few details were available.

"If we are supposed to be fiscally responsible to the people of the state of Louisiana, there is no way in the world we should be passing out something that we don't know what it's going to cost and who's going to be cut," said Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, one of the few lawmakers to oppose the bill.



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