Gov. Jindal Subpoenaed in Controversial Louisiana Health Care Privatization Move

 On Monday, Scott Kipper, the man Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal appointed to facilitate the privatization of that state's employee health insurance resigned. Five days prior, on June 1, Kipper had been questioned by members of the State Senate about his testimony -- namely, they accused him of lying. Now, the controversy brewing threatens to blow the lid off a privatization scheme that may have been utterly unnecessary, and involves a possibly missing $500 million surplus. Talking Points Memo reports: 

The administration has said that privatizing the Office of Group Benefits, which manages the health insurance of around 250,000 state workers, retirees and their dependents, would save taxpayers money, and get the state out of the health insurance business. But critics have countered that OGB isn't broken, and doesn't need fixing, and some have raised questionsabout the fate of the agency's $500 million surplus.

At the hearing last week, though, the senators were particularly focused on the so-called "Chaffe report," an evaluation of OGB recently prepared by a New Orleans company named Chaffe & Associates. Lawmakers wanted to know why the administration has kept the report private, and Kipper struggled to come up with answers they liked.

The report, as one senator pointed out, "might tell you there's no need to privatize" OGB, to which Kipper agreed... but he also said he "hadn't read it" and had "no knowledge" of its existence.... stammering  that led, presumably, to his resignation.

Yesterday, the Senators subpoenaed Governor Jindal for the Chaffe report, demanding its release within 24 hours. So, is this the start of a textbook GOP, big-business privatization scandal that shows how a major elected official is gambling with his constiuents' health and wealth? Who knows, but we'll find out soon. Here's an interesting tidbit: The former OGB head, Tommy Teague, was cut looseafter he questioned the value and reasoning behind privatizing LA state health care.

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at June 9, 2011, 4:40am

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