Lawmakers face tough choices about privatizing health insurance

Governor Jindal says he believes a private industry should run the state’s health insurance arm. He wants to get rid of about 150 workers in the office of group benefits to save the state money.

BATON ROUGE, LA – There were some tough questions at the Capitol Monday over Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan to cut spending. Jindal said he believes a private industry should run the state’s health insurance arm.

Currently, 200,000 employees and dependants use the state’s Office of Group Benefits program. Jindal wants to get rid of about 150 workers in the Office of Group Benefits to save the state money.

“Bottom line is Louisiana is one of only two states that currently operates its own health insurance plan,” Jindal said. “We simply think, as I often stated, when Louisiana is the only state doing something that’s usually not a good thing for our taxpayers. There’s no reason to believe the state can operate a private insurance plan more efficiently than the private insurance industry.”

The governor’s top administrator Paul Rainwater got some tough questions during a briefing with the Senate Retirement Committee. The committee’s chairman Butch Geautreaux is also on the Board of Group Benefits.

“I got in excess of a thousand emails, calls, contacts to my office, and you know how many said just let the governor do what he wants to do?” asked Geautreaux.

“That doesn’t mean it’s not a smart thing to do senator,” responded Rainwater.

There is a way to go before any solid decisions are made. However, on Monday, it was a clear indication group benefits, as we know it, is not going down without a fight.

That bill is also scheduled to be heard on the House side before it returns to the Senate.

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