Last Modified: Friday, August 16, 2013 9:45 PM
Two federal lawmakers shared their views on the Affordable Care Act with more than 800 people, including state lawmakers and local business leaders, at Friday’s Legis-Gator luncheon, hosted by the Chamber Southwest Louisiana.
Keynote speaker U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said she supported the law, also known as Obamacare. “If I had to vote for the bill again, I would vote for it tomorrow,” she said.
Landrieu stressed the importance of health care in terms of boosting economic development, saying “a healthy workforce is a strong workforce.”
“People are scared when they’re sick, and they’re much stronger when they’re well,” she said. “It’s embarrassing to me to go to places like France and Spain ... and their workers all manage to have health insurance that can’t be taken away.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. John Fleming, R-La., said he supports defunding the Affordable Care Act. Fleming, who received the Spirit Enterprise Award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the program is “likely to collapse under its own weight.”
The plan, he said, puts “one-sixth of our economy” under government control. Landrieu disagreed, saying it is “not a government takeover.”
“It is a private-sector model of insurance for people like all of us,” she said.
Landrieu said Louisiana has “more working people that are poor” than any other state. Of the 2 million people who file taxes in the state, she said, 70 percent have incomes lower than $50,000 a year. She said another 12 percent have annual incomes between $50,000 and $75,000.
“When people ask me what kind of health care people need, I think they need something they can afford,” Landrieu said.
Fleming said he is reluctant to call Obamacare affordable because health care costs may triple for young adults. He said the enforcement of the employer mandate — which was recently delayed for one year — will be “very weak.”
Landrieu said she did not understand why Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Legislature did not support the expansion of Medicaid.
Landrieu also spoke about the importance of providing enough money for higher education, including technical colleges that get students immediate jobs on graduation.
“We want to give our kids a visa to the middle class, and that is what higher education and schools are all about,” she said. “We have to invest, not cut. The amount of money does matter.”
House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, said improving higher education will be his focus over the next two years. He spoke about how the state’s general fund provides for only 30 percent of funding for higher education, as opposed to 70 percent several years ago.
“That is not a good recipe for success for higher education here in the state of Louisiana,” Kleckley said.
Even with billions of dollars in capital investments, Kleckley said long-term challenges still exist, including rising Medicaid costs, underfunded pension plans and a narrowing tax base.
“We have to get more creative,” he said. “It’s not how much do we fund higher (education), but how do we fund (it),” he said.
Kleckley said that more students are attending two-year colleges than four-year colleges and that traditional classrooms “will soon be a thing of the past.”
“Technology has to play a central role in the future of higher education here in the state,” he said.
Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish, R-Jennings, said that one thing lost in Washington is “the art of compromise.” During this year’s legislative session, he said state lawmakers in the House and Senate were able to compromise in creating a budget that “was reasonable for the state.”
Morrish spoke about how the unexpected oil boom in south Louisiana in the mid-1970s initially created housing issues before slowing down in the mid-1980s. He said the same boom is expected once industrial projects like the Sasol expansion and Magnolia LNG get underway.
“We know who’s coming, what they’re going to do and how many workers they’re going to need,” Morrish said. “There is going to be a peak, and when the peak comes, then there’s going to be a falling off of that.”
During the event, Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, was named the 2013 Legis-Gator of the year for pushing legislation that included funding for two projects at Sowela Technical Community College.
Rep. Mike Danahay, D-Sulphur, was given the Chairman’s Award for backing legislation to reform the state’s Oil Spill Contingency Fund.
Morrish and Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur, both received the Government Affairs Award. Freshman Rep. Paul Hollis, R-Covington, received the Up and Coming Legislator Award from the Fusion Five organization.
Posted By: ignored taxpayer On: 8/18/2013
Title: amerikan citizen
If Obamacare is not a government takeover, how come the corrupt IRS is ENFORCING Obamacare, complete with FINES AND JAIL TIME FOR NON COMPLIANCE? Next the Communist Democrat Senator will tell us payroll taxes and social security are just VOLUNTARY PRIVATE SECTOR PROGRAMS. THE PEOPLE OF LOUISIANA ARE 80% AGAINST OBAMACARE AND THE COMMUNIST DEMOCRAT SENATOR CAN'T UNDERSTAND WHY. THIS VERY COMMUNIST DEMOCRAT DOES NOT WANT OBAMACARE FOR HERSELF AND HER OVERPAID STAFF BUT CONTINUES TO RAM OBAMACARE DOWN VOTERS THROATS. WE NEED TO THROW THIS BUM OUT IN NOVEMBER 2014!!!!!!