By MELINDA DESLATTEMeanwhile, hey, does anyone know where all the money went?
Published: 13 minutes ago
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - State senators have refused to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program so the working poor could get government-funded health insurance.
The Senate health care committee voted 5-3 Wednesday against coverage expansion legislation proposed by Bogalusa Sen. Ben Nevers, a Democrat.
A House committee was considering a similar proposal, though it faces strong opposition from Gov. Bobby Jindal and other Republican leaders.
Supporters of the expansion hoped the state's dire financial troubles and the offer of billions of federal health care dollars could send more votes their way after failing to gain passage in previous years.
Backers of Medicaid expansion say health coverage would be extended to nearly 300,000 people. Opponents say the increased coverage would be too costly for Louisiana and the federal government and would expand a broken government-run health system.
Two years after Gov. Bobby Jindal began privatizing the state-run charity hospital system, problems and financial questions continue to appear as lawmakers and communities sift through the spill-out effect.
The private managers that now operate the hospitals say they're $159 million short in Jindal's budget of what they need to provide adequate care for the poor and uninsured in the fiscal year that begins July 1.
The LSU medical schools in New Orleans and Shreveport are stuck with millions of dollars in annual costs associated with former and retired hospital workers they say they can't afford.