State legislators weigh in on Medicaid contract extension delay

Updated: Nov. 4, 2017 at 11:07 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Lawmakers are set to take a second look at a Medicaid contract extension next month. This, after House republicans voted against it, Friday.

While many Democrats are chastising their decision, Republicans say it was for good reason.

"I don't see why any legislator would've voted yes," said Republican State Representative Cameron Henry.

He says legislators need more time to review the state's Medicaid contracts.

"The biggest concern members had was the department head, Dr. (Rebekah) Gee, had come out the previous meeting and said she didn't really have faith in her staff to manage this contract or any of the contracts in her office," explained Rep. Henry.

It's a deal with five companies that manage care for more than a million Medicaid patients in Louisiana and many lawmakers want to extend them for another 23 months.

Yet, Henry says when dealing with $15-billion, legislators must first ensure taxpayers and patients are getting the best deal possible.

"If you're looking at a contract that's roughly a fourth of the size of the budget, the contract actually totals about half of the Louisiana Department of Health, you would want to spend as much time as humanly possible looking at it," Henry said.

"What's so sad is that they want to push it back 30 days but in 30 days we are going to have the exact same issues we have now and the exact same options we have now," said Democratic State Senator Wesley Bishop.

Sen. Bishop says approving the contract extension was the right thing to do. He argues these five companies have a proven track record and says those who voted against the extension were doing what was best for the Republican Party, not the people of Louisiana.

"These folks need to stop playing games. It had nothing to do with those contracts, Friday. It had everything, I think, to do with making the governor look bad," Bishop said.

Representative Henry says delaying the contract approval will not affect it as long as lawmakers approve something.

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