House to debate Jindal health plan

The Louisiana House will tackle Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan for resolving the nation’s health care problems.

Senate Bill 682’s fate was uncertain because of the iffy financial cost associated with it. After looking at the governor’s complicated mix of tax deductions and needed changes at the federal level, the Legislative Fiscal Office declined to pinpoint the exact impact to state revenue. What the fiscal office did do was check a little box that signified a state general fund impact of at least $100,000, creating the possibility of the legislation going to a money committee that’s not supposed to meet again this session. That could have meant death to the measure.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman, Jim Fannin, R-Jonesboro, decided Thursday that SB682 didn’t need his panel’s review after all. He said state Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert and Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols assured him the state budget can handle the legislation’s financial impact.

“They indicated to me this morning - the secretary did and the commissioner did - that they have that money,” Fannin said. “There’s no need to hear it.”

With that decision, SB682 is headed toward a floor debate with just four days remaining in the legislative session.

SB682 contains Jindal’s counterproposal to Obamacare. Dubbed Bobbycare, the cost is unclear because the concepts are general.

State Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, stuffed Jindal’s plan into the bill after failing once again to expand Medicaid to cover uninsured working poor. Though many took Nevers’ makeover as tongue-in-cheek, only one legislator has voted against the measure during its trek through the Legislature.