Legislation would mandate legislative reauthorization of coordinated care networks

BATON ROUGE, La. – Two years ago, Governor Bobby Jindal announced a plan to alleviate the state’s Medicaid spending by transitioning to coordinate care networks. This week in the legislature, however, the House unanimously passed a binding resolution to end Jindal’s plan at the end of 2014, unless it receives legislative reauthorization.

These coordinated care plans, to be enacted this fiscal year (July 1st), will transfer approximately two-thirds of Louisiana’s 1.2 million Medicaid recipients into managed care networks. The networks would be similar to an insurance model run by private companies which contract with the state and negotiate payments with providers.

Jindal’s proposal was an effort to lessen the strain of Louisiana’s health care spending while improving outcomes, especially in regards to Medicaid. As Kevin Mooney of the Pelican Post explains, the proposal would allow enrollees to choose their own plans and providers, in turn reducing Medicaid spending by increased competition. Additionally, the networks would emphasize preventive care which would help to decrease future outlays.

Nonetheless, Jindal’s proposal has faced stiff opposition from both ends of the spectrum. The libertarian Cato Institute criticized the plan for increasing eligibility to the entitlement program and not embracing a true free market based reform.

The state legislature is opposed on procedural grounds, arguing that Jindal bypassed the Legislature by inserting the program’s authorization into an amendment in state budget legislation.

Rep. Brett Geymann (R-Lake Charles) introduced the “sunset provision” when legislators balked at the idea of annulling the Jindal plan outright. Rep. Kay Katz (R-Monroe) commented that one committee should not have the power to discontinue a program of such importance. Nonetheless, lawmakers argued that it is necessary for the legislature to have oversight of a program affecting millions. Rep. John Bel Edwards (D-Amite) remarked, “The ramifications are too large… to not allow for the Legislature to have involvement.”

Jamison Beuerman is a contributing writer and policy analyst at the Pelican Institute for Public Policy. He can be reached via email at jbeuerman@pelicanpolicy.org or followed on twitter @jbeuerman.