The financial operations of the state Office of Group Benefits would get independent oversight under legislation that cleared its first legislative hurdle Monday.Fun, also, how we have to anticipate ways in which we might be cleaning up the mess after he's gone.
The legislation comes in reaction to the Jindal administration’s handling of the health insurance program for about 230,000 state employees, teachers, retirees and their dependents. The administration has been hit with a state district court lawsuit alleging mismanagement.
A $500 million-plus reserve shrunk to less than half in just over two years. During the time period, the administration reduced premiums by nearly 10 percent as medical claims outpaced revenues coming in. The premium reduction cut the amount of money state government had to appropriate as its share of costs as the Jindal administration struggled with state budget balancing.
With fiscal disaster looming, the administration revamped the program shifting more costs to OGB members. Now double-digit premium increases are hitting plan members.
A state House panel Monday advanced legislation that would allow Louisiana hospitals to assess fees on themselves to attract more federal dollars for patient care.
The new assessment is conditioned on expansion of Medicaid coverage which Gov. Bobby Jindal has opposed strenuously.
“This governor has made very clear what his position is. There’s nothing I can do about that,” said House Speaker Chuck Kleckley. But Kleckley said he wanted the next governor who takes office in January to have the funding option.
“All four candidates have said they would look at some kind of expansion,” he said. “These are dollars that could benefit the state.”