Health care oversight bill advances

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A bid to give lawmakers more oversight of privatized health care programs created by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration appears on track to passage this year after being vetoed twice before by the governor.

Jindal said he supports the third attempt at the Senate Bill 55, sponsored by state Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Lake Charles. The state Senate Health and Welfare Committee backed the measure without objection Wednesday, sending it again to the full Senate.

“I think the third time is the charm on this bill ... Apparently, there’s been some kind of epiphany on this bill,” said Sen. Sherri Buffington, R-Keithville.

SB55 would set annual reporting requirements on the Department of Health and Hospitals for the Bayou Health program that shifted much of Medicaid to private managed care and for a program that privatized behavioral health and addictive disorder services.

Johns said the details requested by lawmakers would provide transparency to the public and could give people confidence that their tax dollars are spent properly.

Questioned about the bill recently, Jindal said DHH had previous concerns because the programs were new, but he said that’s no longer a concern.

The change in position comes as state and federal agencies investigate the Jindal administration’s award of a Medicaid claims processing contract. The administration has canceled the contract.