Louisiana Poised to Enact Sweeping Obamacare Alternative

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards talks about his proposal to spend state surplus dollars, Wednesday, March 28, 2018, in Baton Rouge, La.(AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)
AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte

Louisiana remains poised to pass a sweeping Obamacare alternative bill that could offer citizens more affordable health care while protecting pre-existing conditions.

The Louisiana state House legislature overwhelmingly passed a new bill, pushed by Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry, through the House with 90 lawmakers in favor of the bill and only nine state congressmen against the legislation. The legislation passed through the state Senate unanimously.

“We are one step closer to Louisiana becoming the country’s leaders in protecting patients with pre-existing conditions,” Landry said after the bill was passed in May.

Landry proposed the legislation, known as the Health Care Coverage for Louisiana Families Protection Act, which would allow the state insurance commission to open the health insurance market to anyone not covered by an employer-sponsored health insurance plan. Companies could then compete on the state exchange to offer health insurance.

Landry’s health insurance legislation would also protect Americans with pre-existing conditions without the more onerous regulations that arose from Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The Louisiana healthcare bill would establish a high-risk “guaranteed benefits pool” that would protect and offer health insurance to more expensive patients with pre-existing conditions. The Louisiana state government would subsidize the guaranteed insurance pool, which would come from a fee on every health insurance policy sold in the state.

Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office said the governor is reviewing the bill; however, Edwards has contended that the legislation is redundant as Obamacare already protects patients with pre-existing conditions.

“While we must take any step possible toward protecting our people, we can’t falsely claim we’ve completely solved this problem and risk tragedy for vulnerable people,” Edwards said in May.

However, Landry’s legislation could serve as a replacement for Obamacare if the Supreme Court were to strike down the entire ACA law.

Plaintiffs won at the district court level, contending that because Congress eliminated the ACA individual mandate, the rest of the ACA must go.

Landry’s bill can also serve as a potential model for a future Obamacare replacement for Republicans, proving that Republicans can offer a plan that offers Americans lower healthcare costs and protect Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Further, the legislation creates two difficult options for Edwards, including:

  1. Edwards could veto the legislation even though the bill will likely become law as the legislation passed with veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the Louisiana legislature.
  2. Edwards could sign the legislation, which could give Landry and Louisiana Republicans a victory on health care that could serve as a model for future Republican healthcare proposals.

Edwards faced a similar situation when he ultimately signed the Louisiana heartbeat bill, which restricted the ability for citizens to obtain an abortion after a fetus has developed a heartbeat.

Adam Piper, the executive director of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), said the bill presents a challenge for Edwards as he has to compete against Republican challenger Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA), a candidate for governor.

The Louisiana healthcare bill arises as President Donald Trump said he will preview a new GOP healthcare plan in June. Trump also said that the Republican Party will become the party of health care.

Brent Littlefield, a Republican consultant who worked with Landry on the bill, said that the legislation proves that there are possible avenues for the GOP to repeal and replace Obamacare while covering pre-existing conditions.

“This is a proven model which protects access to insurance for those with pre-existing conditions without the heavy hand of Washington,” Littlefield said. “Republicans now have a solution to Obamacare which has received broad bipartisan support.”

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.


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