BATON ROUGE, La. - The new chairwoman of the state Democratic Party, Karen Carter Peterson, and Gov. Bobby Jindal are trading punches over the Medicaid program.
The sparring comes as Louisiana grapples with how to implement massive cuts in the Medicaid budget due to the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding.
The state Department of Health and Hospitals said Friday it will have to cut $329 million from the public health care system run by LSU.
In a speech to the Baton Rouge Press Club on Monday, Peterson lashed out at the governor for refusing to have Louisiana participate in the expansion of the Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act (the new healthcare law,) saying it was akin to him signing a death warrant for community hospitals.
She said Jindal's decision not to take part in the program that was designed to provide Medicaid to an additional 366,000 people in the state using $7 billion in federal funds was an example of the governor playing politics.
Peterson said Jindal has failed in his duty as governor by ignoring the significant improvements the law will bring to the state's uninsured citizens as he instead courts Mitt Romney's campaign trail and the Republican Party.
A spokeswoman for the governor said Peterson was mistaken if she thinks we can just print money like Washington, and that the best way to get people healthcare is to help people get good paying jobs, not by creating a new entitlement program.
Also on Monday night in Baton Rouge, Congressman Bill Cassidy, R-La., held a town hall meeting about the Affordable Care Act and how it will affect people here.
It was standing room only as he discussed concerns about the Supreme Court ruling on Pres. Barack Obama's health care plan.
Many wanted to know how long it would be before the GOP repealed the law.
Cassidy said healthcare reform has three goals, which Democrats and Republicans can agree on.
"Provide affordable, access to quality care. Want to hold down cost, want to give as many people access as possible to quality care," he said.
The issue is how do we get to those priorities, he said. In his words, the president has only emphasized the access - and not the cost issue.
Cassidy thinks Medicaid should return to being for those who are truly poor.