BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s top budget adviser scrapped a legislative vote Thursday on the governor’s proposal to outsource a state employeehealth insurance plan, when it became clear the contract didn’t have enough support to win approval.
Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols pulled the proposed contract between the Office of Group Benefits and Blue Cross/Blue Shield from consideration after four hours of discussion. Her decision sidetracked an attempt by House opponents to vote on rejecting the proposal outright.
“We’d like to come back at a later date,” Nichols said.
The House and Senate budget committees ended their joint meeting in a flurry of votes that went nowhere because the two sides couldn’t agree on anything, not even a vote to delay a decision on the contract until next week.
Jindal proposed hiring the private company as a cost-cutting move to manage a state employee health insurance plan that covers 62,000 workers, retirees and their dependents. Critics question the savings estimates and worry the change could harmhealth benefits for workers.
“There are some very legitimate concerns,” said Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, a Jindal ally who persuaded senators to delay a decision rather than vote on a House motion to refuse the contract.
“I think we probably need to give a little more thought and a little more time on this issue,” he said.
Nichols said the outsourcing plan would save money by consolidating duplicative administrative costs because Blue Cross/Blue Shield already runs a larger insurance plan for state workers in a contract with the office. She said employees and retirees would have more doctors available to them.