Landrieu: Jindal putting political aspirations ahead of state's best interests

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

Gov. Bobby Jindal is putting his prospects for being president ahead of the best interests of Louisiana’s economy and its residents’ health, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said Tuesday.

Her criticism stemmed from Jindal’s

refusal to participate in the Medicaid expansion. Under the Affordable

Care Act, or Obamacare,

the federal government would cover $25 billion of the cost for

expanding Medicaid over the next decade.

The state would pay $1.8 billion of that cost, which would cover more than 400,000 uninsured residents. Initially, Obamacare required states to implement the Medicaid expansion, but a U.S. Supreme Court decision

last June left the decision to the states.

“It’s very disheartening to me and a growing number of people in our state,” Landrieu said at a news conference. “It’s his

quest to be the next president and to check off the tea party ‘I am the most conservative person in America’ checklist.”

More than 15,000 jobs would be created in the health care sector by 2016, according to a report released by Families USA in

conjunction with the Louisiana Healthcare Coalition.

“If he would get his mind and his heart on the people he’s representing, we might have some better outcomes,” Landrieu said,

adding that Jindal’s “obstructionism” is a “pattern that is very worrisome.”

“Southwest Louisiana and all of our state would suffer if Governor Jindal does not expand Medicaid,” Landrieu said in a prepared

statement after the news conference.

“Right now, 18 percent of people in

Calcasieu Parish and 23 percent in Cameron Parish lack health insurance.

That’s approximately

31,339 people in the Lake Charles metropolitan area alone that

could become healthier and more productive members of our workforce

thanks to the Medicaid expansion.”

Not only would Louisiana receive money from the federal government, but Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, said

the state “would save money” by opting into the Medicaid expansion.

So far, seven Republican governors have opted in. Pollack, who led the news conference, echoed Landrieu’s statements, adding

that the real distinction between these governors and Jindal is that Jindal is a potential presidential candidate.

“The state has to pay for significant

costs for those uninsured people who get care and cannot pay for it,”

Pollack said in

his report at the news conference. “We estimate over the next

decade the state’s budget would experience a savings of approximately

$267 million.”

By Jindal rejecting the expansion, he is “committing fiscal malpractice” on behalf of Louisiana, Pollack said.

Following the news conference, the governor’s office released a statement in which Jindal said that if Louisiana opted into

that Medicaid expansion, it would cost taxpayers more than $1 billion in 10 years.

“The reality is Medicaid relies on an outdated model that costs taxpayers billions of dollars for poor outcomes,” Jindal said

in the prepared statement.

“Yet President Obama and his ally,

Senator Landrieu, would have you believe that a government program is

good for economic

development. It’s a fundamental philosophical difference. Senator

Landrieu and President Obama believe that growing government

will help grow jobs. That’s not how the economy works.”