Reuters news agency reported that Gov. Bobby Jindal accepted $60 million in federal funds provided under “Obamacare,” while at the same time criticizing the health care law every chance he got.
The same is true of several other Republican governors running for president. The Reuters story said Jindal and three other governors eyeing the White House — Scott Walker, of Wisconsin, and Chris Christie, of New Jersey, and now former Gov. Rick Perry, of Texas, — accepted federal aid from the health care bill, to the tune of at least $352 million.
In fact, as Jindal and LSU health officials pointed out — rightly, we believe — the charge of hypocrisy does not bear scrutiny.
The funding had been coming to Louisiana through federal grants, but in the legislative process in Congress was made part of, or modestly changed, in the Affordable Care Act.
Of Louisiana’s funds, some $50 million is related to a nurse family partnership multiyear grant program that has been in place since 1999, said Frank Opelka Jr., chief of staff at the state Department of Health and Hospitals. Nurses go to the homes of pregnant women and those with young children, he said.
Other funding cited in the Reuter’s report included $1.25 million for a medical school student loan repayment program that rewards physicians who opt to practice in rural settings and five or six public health grants for such things as HIV-AIDS treatment, quitting smoking and epidemiology, Opelka said.
Opelka said the state initially accepted about a $1 million grant to establish a state-based health insurance exchange allowed under the law. “It’s something we looked at doing but quicky realized it was not cost-effective and gave the money back,” he said. The money was returned in March 2011.
This does not seem to us to be hypocrisy but common sense.
If anything, we wish that Jindal had accepted more Affordable Care Act funds, as expansion of Medicaid insurance for the working poor would make Louisiana healthier at a cost heavily subsidized by the U.S. government. Christie to his credit backed that program in New Jersey.
Jindal may face some hard questions on the presidential campaign trail about the consequences of his policies in Louisiana. These relatively small federal grants don’t rise to the level of an issue in our view.