A state Senate committee defied the Jindal administration Wednesday and advanced legislation that would organize an exchange to help facilitate the purchase and sale of health care insurance under the new federal law.
The Senate Insurance Committee “just voted to make a very risky move,” said Bruce Greenstein, secretary of state Health and Hospitals, after the panel voted 6-2 to advance Senate Bill 744. Louisiana is one of a handful of states that have refused to set up a health care insurance and opt instead for the federal exchange as required under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Greenstein said the Jindal administration opposed the legislation because the exchange, a website where people without health insurance could go to find policies, would set up a new government bureaucracy that ultimately would be funded by increased state taxes or premiums.
“This is an attempt to be prepared,” countered state Sen. Karen Peterson, D-New Orleans, who sponsored SB744.
The federal law requires that states either set up their own exchange or join the federal government’s 2014.
Work on organizing the exchange would stop should the U.S. Supreme Court, which is considering the constitutionality of the federal health care revamp, strike down the law.
Peterson amended the legislation to require the board putting together the exchange to present the plan first for approval to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget before sending it the federal government.