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Jindal, Cao lead on Medicaid issue; Landrieu obstructs

If he puts his money where his mouth is, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal will have Louisiana move in a very positive direction to cope with budgetary problems and set up better state fiscal policy-making for the future. Unfortunately, Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu seems more interested in playing politics than in finding solutions.

In his latest remarks, Jindal gave broad parameters to his agenda over the next few months, and welcome they are. He absolutely ruled out tax increases and said the state would concentrate on cutting spending, correctly identifying how to boost economic development and make state government the right size. Further, he pledged to try to alter the state’s fiscal structure to provide for a more-rational mechanism by which to cut spending so that it did not disproportionately fall on health care and higher education, such as freeing dedicated monies and allowing more control by universities over tuition as long as they performed adequately (modeled after Virginia’s plan). Also, he said he would work towards getting the federal government to remedy an unintended consequence of its formula to distribute Medicaid dollars that artificially inflated Louisiana’s share of paying for the program because of federal recovery dollars for the hurricane disasters of 2005 – perhaps the most serious fiscal problem the state faces in the short term.

Regrettably, Landrieu seems unwilling to help out on this last part. In discussing a proposal by Democrat Pres. Barack Obama to have a bipartisan meeting concerning health care policy, she continued to stay unusually wedded to the current Democrat plan that would bring higher costs and taxes for lower quality. Perhaps this should not be unexpected since she was ridiculed for, even as a large majority of the state’s residents were against the plan, her support of it after it was revealed an amendment to its Senate version giving the state perhaps over $300 million concerning the Medicaid formula got put into it at her behest. Then when political conditions made the plan impossible, she dug in even more in her support of it through a bizarre speech on the Senate floor. In short, she has invested herself so heavily into a plan that cannot pass and which is detested by a majority of her constituents that she cannot see the wisdom in cutting her losses and abandoning it in favor of genuine political solutions.

Particularly relevant as a solution is H.R. 4047 by Republican Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao which would make the adjustment requested by Jindal and is co-sponsored by every member of the Louisiana House delegation. If Landrieu were serious about trying to get what she claims she wants, she would abandon the flawed Obama changes and clearly articulate her support for Cao’s bill.

Ironically, in her comments about Obama’s pitch, Landrieu cast doubt on whether Republicans would be honest in her intentions when she seems to exhibit a lack of that on the Medicaid formula issue. Petulantly insisting that passing a bill based on the same flawed philosophy that cannot get public support, any real bipartisan support, or necessary majorities to move forward and holding hostage the Medicaid fix as part of that is irresponsible and demonstrates Landrieu’s greater interest in insisting on following blind ideology rather than in realistic efforts to help Louisiana.

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