Louisiana leaders exchange barbs over health care ruling
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s governor and attorney general are trading criticism and suggesting state legislation in the wake of a Texas federal judge’s ruling that, if upheld, will jettison the entire federal health care overhaul.
Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, said the decision could eliminate insurance coverage for 480,000 people enrolled in Louisiana’s Medicaid expansion program and 850,000 residents who are estimated to have pre-existing conditions.
He criticized Attorney General Jeff Landry for joining other Republican attorneys general in support of the Texas lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act. Edwards said the lawsuit creates uncertainty for hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana.
“Being diagnosed with breast cancer or diabetes should not automatically mean that you are denied coverage to protect an insurance company’s profits, and if you put in a full day’s work, you should not be priced out of coverage,” Edwards said in a statement. “This was a short-sighted lawsuit, to say the least.”
Landry defended his decision to join the lawsuit, calling the health law an “unconstitutional federal overreach.”
“For John Bel Edwards to say the only solution for health care is Obamacare shows he is more interested in playing politics than solving problems,” Landry said in a statement Monday. “We can truly lower costs, improve health care access and cover pre-existing conditions if people set aside politics and work together.”
Edwards said he intends to seek state law changes to require coverage of people with pre-existing conditions, and Landry said he was talking with state lawmakers about the same idea.
The governor sent a letter Monday to Republican House Speaker Taylor Barras describing the legislation he’ll support, which also would allow children to stay on their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26 and restrict benefit limits for health coverage. Edwards said Rep. Chad Brown, a Democrat from Plaquemine, will sponsor the measure for consideration in the legislative session that starts in April.
Friday’s ruling in the federal court in Texas isn’t expected to take effect during the appeals process, with the federal health department saying it will continue administering and enforcing the law.