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Lawmakers back Jindal health outsourcing contract

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BATON ROUGE - After a shake-up on the House budget committee, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has gotten approval from lawmakers to outsource a state employee health insurance plan.

The Senate Finance Committee backed the contract between the Office of Group Benefits and Blue Cross/Blue Shield in a 10-3 vote Friday, while the House Appropriations Committee agreed in a 16-10 vote, giving the deal final passage.

Jindal's top budget adviser shelved a vote last week when it became clear the contract was short the votes needed. A day later, two Republican opponents of the contract were ousted from the House committee.

Blue Cross will manage the health plan that covers 62,000 workers, retirees and their dependents.

Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols called the change a cost-cutting move. Critics doubted the savings estimates.

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