Health chief predicts insurance problems

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Posted: Oct 13, 2011 2:30 PM
Updated: Oct 13, 2011 2:30 PM
Source: Associated Press

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Topics: wbrz, louisiana, health chief, president, obama, medicaid

BATON ROUGE - Louisiana's health chief says President Barack Obama's health-care program will result in the "cannibalization" of private health insurance by 2014.

State Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein said the national health-care revamp would increase Louisiana's Medicaid rolls by 467,000 people - about 187,000 of them covered by private insurance plans today.

"It's the cannibalization of private health insurance as they move from one side to the other and at the public's expense," Greenstein told the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge.

Greenstein said some 1.2 million people are enrolled in Louisiana's health insurance program for the poor today - most of them children, pregnant women, the elderly and disabled. He says the federal changes expand that by 40 percent.

Access to primary care is already challenging today and it will only become more so, he said.

The federal law changes do nothing to fix the current Medicaid system, which dates back to the 1960s, Greenstein said.

Facing the state is the "more difficult challenge" of what a bi-partisan congressional committee's recommends for $1.5 trillion in federal budget reductions, Greenstein said.

Greenstein said Louisiana and other states are trying to get the attention of the congressional committee to urge that states be given more flexibility to tailor a health-care program that meets various needs.

"We are always boxed in with federal regulations," Greenstein said. "It's about shifting more costs" to state governments.

"We think government-financed health care does not have to be government-run," he said.

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