By Robert Mann
Just how much do Louisiana Republicans despise President Barack Obama? The results of Wednesday’s appalling vote against providing health insurance for Louisiana’s working poor in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee suggests it’s quite a bit.
After a hearing on Sen. Ben Nevers’ bill to put the issue of Medicaid expansion to voters this fall in the form of a constitutional amendment, the committee voted along party lines to reject the bill. The vote was 5-2 against helping the working poor.
Accepting federal Medicaid dollars under the Affordable Care Act is not only an act of justice and compassion; it’s a good deal for Louisiana. The federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs of providing health insurance to hundreds of thousands of working poor in Louisiana. Thereafter, Washington will cover 90 percent of the cost.
Jindal and Republicans in the Legislature say that’s too much. They say it will potentially bankrupt the state (this from a party that will give us a billion-dollar budget shortfall next year). Never mind that, in 2008, Jindal proposed his own Medicaid expansion program to Washington, in which he volunteered Louisiana to pay 30 percent of the costs.
That, of course, was before the Affordable Care Act passed and Jindal decided to run for president. Now, nothing can get in the way of his presidential aspirations, not even protecting the health of his state’s working poor.
I understand why Jindal won’t take the money. He cares more about being elected president than helping working people in need. That’s clear.
What I don’t get is how state legislators don’t understand that helping Louisiana’s working poor is good politics and good policy.
Rep. Vance McAllister used the issue to win a congressional seat last year in one of the most conservative regions of the state. McAllister had the guts to tell his constituents the truth about the benefits of accepting the Medicaid dollars. They elected him to Congress. Continue reading