BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Lawmakers scrapped a planned vote Thursday on Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan to hire a private company to manage a state employee health insurance plan, raising questions about whether the proposal had run into trouble.
The delay was announced a day before the scheduled hearing of the House and Senate budget committees to review the proposed contract between the Office of Group Benefits and Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Fannin said he sought a meeting delay because lawmakers received the contract two days before the hearing and wanted more time to review the lengthy document.
“Members asked us for some more time to get to look at the contract. It was 70 to 80 pages. I thought that was a reasonable request. I wanted my staff to look at it,” he said.
Critics of the plan said they think Jindal didn’t have enough support for passage.
“It’s our belief that the administration did not have their vote in the committee,” said Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe. She added. “Members have more concerns than just reviewing the contract.”
Jindal wants to hire Blue Cross/Blue Shield to run an insurance plan in the Office of Group Benefits that covers more than 62,000 employees, retirees and their dependents, called a PPO. The outsourcing, if approved, would take effect Jan. 1 and eliminate 177 full-time government jobs.
Fannin, D-Jonesboro, said he didn’t cancel the meeting because a vote tally suggested the Jindal administration could fall short.
“I would suspect that it will be a close vote. And I think the votes were there. But I don’t think it hurts to give folks a little extra time to look at it,” he said.