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Gov. Jindal pushing to privatize state health insurance

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MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News)- 62 thousand state employees could soon see a change in their health insurance plans. Governor Bobby Jindal wants to privatize the state office that oversees insurance benefits for state workers. But some law makers are wary of the move. "If we are going to look at those options we have to make sure they are the absolute best options" said democratic state representative Marcus Hunter.

Right now the Office of Group Benefits (OGB) offers health and life insurance to a quarter million employees, retirees, and their dependents. The governor's office says contracting out plans to Blue cross and Blue Shield will save the state 20 million dollars and state workers won't see a change in benefits or premiums. "Which is a direct benefit to members and the cost that they pay for their plans. It's also a decrease in cost to tax payers" said Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols.

But Representative Katrina Jackson says the numbers don't add up. According to her, the contract will cost 154 million dollars more in administrative costs and lay off 177 OGB employees. "When we looked at the plan to privatize the PPO, of course we looked at the numbers and realized that there was no way possible that a private insurance company could offer the same type of service while keeping it under the dollar value that OGB does" said Jackson.

"For the administration and for certain groups to think this is a good idea, in these tough financial economic times, is beyond me" added Hunter.

The contract was initially signed with out legislative consent. But the state attorneys general office says the governor must have lawmaker approval first. Lawmakers will meet Friday morning to vote on the plan.

Louisiana is one of two states that hasn't contracted out health insurance services.


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