Louisiana AG joins lawsuit vs. ACA; focus on pre-existing conditions

BY DON SHOOPMAN

THE DAILY IBERIAN

BATON ROUGE — Blowback from Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s appearance on national cable television Monday brought support from the Louisiana Speaker of the House and rebuke from the governor of Louisiana.

Landry spoke on CNN about a unilateral decision to enter the state of Louisiana into a lawsuit that eliminates health care protections for people with pre-existing conditions in the state, according to Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. 

Landry,  a  Teche Area native, said it would be the Louisiana Legislature’s responsibility to protect people with pre-existing conditions if the latest anti-Obamacare legal action prevails.

“I think that would be a debate we would have at the Capitol in the Legislature,” Landry was quoted as saying in The Advocate about his decision to join another attempt to gut Obamacare.

Landry also made it clear that before joining the lawsuit, he had no plan in place to ensure insurance companies don’t deny coverage for 849,000 people in Louisiana who could lose health care because they have a pre-existing condition, according to a prepared statement from Edwards, who said Landry “did not think this through.”

However, state Rep. Taylor Barras, the Speaker of the House from New Iberia, said he is ready to work on protecting people with pre-existing condition should the state’s lawsuit  against the Affordable Care Act be successful.

“Our desire is to help Louisiana get better health care. Should the litigation in Texas be successful, I would encourage the governor to engage in the legislature immediately to review options for Louisiana,” Barras said in a prepared statement later Monday. “We stand ready to work on maintaining coverage for pre-existing conditions.

“Like Attorney General Jeff Landry said earlier this morning on CNN, Republicans have long believed people with pre-exisintg health conditions should be protected. We are a party interested in expanding choices, increasing coverage and reducing premiums.”

Barras, a Republican, said he had conversations with Landry about the lawsuit and its potential outcomes. He also thanked Landry for acknowledging the role of the Louisiana Legislature.

“I greatly appreciate the Attorney General’s respect of the separation of powers and his reverence of legislation being initiated by the House and Senate,” he said.

Edwards, meanwhile, saw the issue differently.

“It’s deeply disturbing that he has committed the state to this effort without consulting anyone and, even worse, without having a plan in place to ensure these individuals do not lose their health care,” the governor said. “Entering into this lawsuit should not be an impulse decision. It required thoughtful consideration of the repercussions to the people of Louisiana.

“After seeing the Attorney General’s interview on CNN this morning, it’s clear he did not think this through,” he said. “Everyone acknowledges the Affordable Care Act has flaws, and we should be working together to fix what’s broke. 

“Protecting coverage for people with pre-existing conditions is one are where there is broad, bi-partisan support. If successful, this lawsuit would cause chaos within the health care system, and the people of Louisiana would be left to pick up the pieces.”

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