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Bill to force Jindal to accept health care dollars clears senate panel hurdle

The Louisiana Senate Committee on Health & Welfard Tuesday approved legislation that would require Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to utilize Medicaid money on the condition the additional dollars be used to help lover-inclome residents buy insurance plans.
The Louisiana Senate Committee on Health & Welfare Tuesday approved legislation that would require Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to utilize Medicaid money on the condition the additional dollars be used to help lower-inclome residents buy insurance plans.

The original bill, Senate Bill 125, introduced by Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, was intended to force the governor into accepting the federal Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, which was upheld by the U.S, Supreme Court in June 2012.

Jindal is one of several Republican governors still refusing to take the money. However, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona and John Kasich of Ohio, all of whom originally refused the money, later capitulated in order to bring more federal dollars into their states.

Peterson's original bill was nixed by the panel, and the new amended bill barely squeaked by with a 4-3 vote. The amended bill dramatically changes the bill's original language so the measure implements a similar version of the health-care overhaul currently making its way through the Arkansas Legislature.

Changes in the amendment, termed the "Louisiana Health Care Independence Program" would require the state Department of Health and Hospitals to request a federal waiver to "pay premimums and supplemental cost-sharing subsidies directly to the federally-qualified health plans" for eligible residents.

Peterson said the new, amended bill gives Louisiana the opportunity to bring approximately $16 billion federal dollars back to Louisiana in the next 10 years, while creating more than 15,000 health care jobs.

The bill, supported by a number of non-profit groups throughout the state, will now go to the full Senate for debate.
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