Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
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BATONROUGE -- A New Orleans lawmaker is sticking by her statements the 'race' is playing a role in the opposition to the President Barack Obama health care overhaul.

This week, the Louisiana Senate Finance Committee killed a bill that would have required state health officials to accept federal dollars under the Affordable Care Act also know as Obamacare.

The proposal by State Senator Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, would have forced the state to expand Medicaid health care coverage for the estimated 400,000 people in the state who are currently uninsured.

Carter Peterson expressed her disappointment on the floor of the Senate.

'It's not about how many dollars we can receive, it's not about that,' she said. 'You ready? It's about race. I know nobody wants to talk about that. It's about the race of this African American president.'

Metairie Republican Senator Conrad Appel was on the Senate floor when Carter Peterson took the mic.

'The only card I guess she has to play and it's unfortunate, perhaps is the race card,' said Appel. 'The race card was so out of place in the context of this discussion. It was never even an issue.'

Appel says 'trust, not race' is why many lawmakers oppose Obamacare.

'You have to trust that the President and Congress are telling us the truth. You have to trust that they'll be no massive expansion of these programs as soon as we sign up that will cost the people of Louisiana everything they have.'

Carter Peterson's comments drew the ire of the Louisiana Republican Party. State GOP chair Roger Villere released a statement calling for her to resign her post as head of the Louisiana Democratic Party.

'It's shocking that state Sen. Peterson has doubled down on her comment that Louisianians who oppose Obamacare are racists,' Villere said.

'There will be no apology because an apology is not due to the people of Louisiana for what I said, Carter Peterson responded. 'Apology maybe should come from Gov. Jindal as to why he's not accepting the money that can help so many uninsured citizens, working families.'

Friday, Gov. Jindal said it is pathetic to try to reduce every issue down to race.

'I think that's wrong,' Jindal said. 'I think there are many, many people in Louisiana, in both political parties that disagree with Obamacare, that think it was poorly written, poorly conceived, poorly executed, don't agree with this law. I don't think they are racist.'

'It's nothing to shy away from,' said Carter Peterson. 'I'm not here to shy away from it. Race is a factor. Race is an issue in our community. It's not going away anytime soon. It certainly is and was a factor for some.'

Gov. Jindal says the Medicaid expansion would cost the state more than $1.6 billion over 10 years.

But studies by the state legislative fiscal office and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals show the state would save money by participating in the program.

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