The Latest: House GOP leader criticizes emergency contracts
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Latest on haggling over contracts for companies that manage Medicaid services for 1.5 million Louisiana residents (all times local):
The Louisiana House GOP lawmaker who led the effort to stall $15 billion in Medicaid contracts says Gov. John Bel Edwards is improperly circumventing the legislature by using an emergency process to enact the deals.
Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry says House Republicans twice delayed approval of the 23-month contracts for companies that manage care for 1.5 million Medicaid patients to make sure state dollars were spent wisely.
He said Tuesday the intention was never to stop the contracts from eventually being signed. But he said lawmakers were closely scrutinizing the deals to be “prudent with taxpayer dollars.”
The Edwards administration is moving ahead to enact the contracts without getting approval from lawmakers, by using a state law that allows for emergency contracting when an imminent threat to public health exists.
Gov. John Bel Edwards intends to sidestep lawmakers to enact $15 billion in Medicaid contracts, after House Republicans voted twice to block deals to provide services to 1.5 million people.
The Democratic governor plans to enact 23-month “emergency contracts” that will keep five managed-care companies overseeing services for 90 percent of Louisiana’s Medicaid patients.
The current managed-care contracts expire Jan. 31. House Republicans on the Legislature’s joint budget committee have twice refused to approve extensions.
Edwards’ administration is relying on a state law that allows for emergency contracting when an imminent threat to public health exists.
Edwards’ chief lawyer Matthew Block says if the Medicaid contracts expire, there would be no way to deliver services to patients. He says that “clearly meets the requirement established in law” for emergency contracting.