Gov. John Bel Edwards‘ administration told the Louisiana House leadership Tuesday (Dec. 5) it can have another crack at approving $15.4 billion worth of state Medicaid contract extensions next week if it wants. But the governor will continue to circumvent the Legislatureand put the contracts in place anyway if the House doesn’t act.
“Should you wish to reconsider the approval of the extensions, [the Legislature’s budget committees] can still vote approve the extensions next week on December 14th,” wrote Matthew Block, the governor’s general counsel to House Speaker Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia, and House Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry, R-Metairie.
“If you do not desire [the Legislature’s budget committees] to reconsider this vote, the [the Louisiana Department of Health] will simply continue moving forward with the emergency contracts process,” Block wrote.
Edwards has been struggling for a month to get the five large contracts past the House members on the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget. The agreements are with private companies who oversee health care coverage for 90 percent of Medicaid recipients in Louisiana and are worth a quarter of the state’s entire operating budget. They are supposed to kick in Feb. 1 and last 23 months.