Attorney General sends Louisiana back to legislature for contract approval

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September 14, 2012


By Phil Sletten

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana: The Louisiana Attorney General's office says that the plans put forward by the administration of Governor Bobby Jindal (R) to contract state employee health insurance requires legislative approval. This position, which was put forward in a legal opinion requested by Louisiana House Representative Katrina Jackson (D), runs counter to administration plans to contract between the Office of Group Benefits and Blue Cross/Blue Shield for state employees.[1]

Assistant Attorney General Michael Vallan wrote in the legal opinion that "The Legislature has expressed its desire that contracts governing the provision of basic health care services, as well as certain other related contracts, be subject to review and final approval by the Legislature."[1] The Office of Group Benefits, a state government agency, gives state employees and their dependents both health and life insurance. Currently, the agency provides insurance to approximately 255,000 people.[1]

A press release from Representative Jackson, who opposes the contract, urged her fellow legislators to reject the administration's proposal, saying the proposal "would eliminate 177 positions, leaving more Louisiana citizens unemployed."[2]

"The Office of Group Benefits does not cost the state any money. It is a healthy plan that has always remained viable, while currently offering health insurance to more than a quarter of a million (255,950) Louisiana citizens at a reasonable cost," Jackson's press release stated.[2]

When Blue Cross/Blue Shield was selected to administer the state health plans, the Louisiana Division of Administration estimated that the contract would save the state, employees, and local school boards over $20 million each year.[3][1] In response to the legal opinion, the Division of Administration said that, while it believed the Attorney General's office was incorrect, it would not go to court over the matter and would seek approval from the legislature.[1]

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