Updated at 11:57 AM ET
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration has handed over a report it commissioned on the agency that manages state employees’ health insurance, after state senators on Wednesday raised the propsect of a legislative subpoena. But the report is still not being made available to the public.
Brenda Hodge, communications director for the Louisiana state Senate, told TPM that the subpoena was not issued because lawmakers were able to “reach an agreement with the [the Division of Administration] a to receive a copy of the report.”
The report, prepared by New Orleans company Chaffe & Associates, was commissioned as part of the administration’s plan to privatize the Office of Group Benefits (OGB), which oversees health care for around 250,000 state workers, retirees and their dependents. The report apparently analyzes OGB’s financial value. At a Senate & Governmental Affairs Committee confirmation hearing last week, Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater and OGB Chief Scott Kipper were asked about the report. During the hearing, Rainwater promised to get senators a copy of the report, but this week he went back on that pledge. That prompted lawmakers to vote to issue a subpoena — though it was never issued.
While handing over the report, Rainwater asked the senators to keep the document secret, according to The Associated Press.“We have significant concerns that premature disclosure of the report will prejudice the (solicitation for offers) and negotiations process. This is not a matter of secrecy, but a basic component of our ability to make decisions that are within our purview, to direct the integrity of a successful procurement,” Rainwater wrote to Senate President Joel Chaisson, in a letter obtained by the AP.
The state senate has declared the report confidential.
The administration says that privatizing OGB will net a big upfront payment, perhaps as much as $150 million, while allowing the state to cut around 150 jobs, and save millions a year. They further argue that privatization would only affect the 62,000 OGB members who participate in the agency’s preferred provider organization (PPO) program, which is both self-funded and self-administered. But critics have countered that OGB is well run, and should not be altered, and have raised questions about the fate of OGB’s $500 million surplus fund.
Read TPM’s past coverage here.