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Jindal blasts White House policies ahead of Obama's visit

BATON ROUGE, La. - Just hours before Air Force One carries President Barack Obama to Louisiana on Friday, Gov. Bobby Jindal blasted White House policies during an afternoon press conference at the governor's mansion.

Still, Jindal said he will greet the president at the airport.

"I hope the president enjoys his visit here, I hope that he enjoys the tour of the port, I look forward to visiting with him tomorrow," Jindal said.

Jindal said the president's policies are bad for Louisiana and the nation in four areas: education, health care, energy and economic growth.

Jindal is calling on Mr. Obama to change course and support efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also called health care reform.

 "And this isn't just about the website, it's not just about the 92,000 Louisianans or the millions of Americans that are losing access to their healthcare plans, it really is about a large bureaucratic government program that's going to decrease the quality of health care and increase the costs," he said.

Jindal said the law in its current form is deeply flawed.

"The president's got the ability, he's got the opportunity and only one man can do this," Jindal said. "One man's got the opportunity to admit that he's made a mistake. All of us in public life are required to do that. I've done that, and I think he's got the opportunity to say it's time to reverse direction, it is time to repeal this law, replace it."

But Louisiana Democratic Party leaders said Jindal is trying to deflect attention from his recent missteps on the national stage. 

"Let's be incredibly clear - Gov. Jindal is incredibly desperate to change the topic," said Stephen Handwerk, Executive Director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. "Right now, this governor has led the Governor's Association, the Republican Governor's Association for the past year, and he has a stunning loss in Virginia, and he's doing anything and everything he can to change the topic. That's not going to work for him."

Handwerk criticized Jindal for turning down the federal funds that would allow more low-income residents to be enrolled in the state's Medicaid program, which the White House has called on all states to do.

"He has prevented Medicaid expansion from coming, and the problem with that is we now end up with 240,000 individuals who are going to be in this 'Jindal gap,'" Handwerk said. "They make too much to qualify for existing Medicaid and they don't make enough money to qualify for any of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, and that's a problem."

But Jindal is not backing down on his decision to reject federal government dollars to expand Medicaid as part of the health care reform law. 

"Here in Louisiana, we've made the right decision for Louisiana's taxpayers," Jindal said. "If you believe the numbers about the exchanges and what they're supposed to accomplish, fewer than six percent of our people are going to be uninsured."

Jindal said he will tour the Port of New Orleans along with the president. He said he would welcome any assistance the president might lend to help delay or abolish the Biggert-Waters Act that requires significantly higher flood insurance rates for many Louisiana residents.

Some local political and business leaders hope the president will announce something positive about mitigating the effects of the law during his visit.

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