BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Lawmakers urged Gov. Bobby Jindal's health department Tuesday to look at alternative program models to tap into the Medicaid expansion money available under the federal health care law.

The issue came up several times during a House Appropriations Committee review of next year's budget for the Department of Health and Hospitals, which doesn't include the anticipation of any dollars from the Medicaid expansion.

Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, asked DHH Undersecretary Jerry Phillips to track negotiations in Arkansas, which asked federal officials to let it use the Medicaid money to buy private insurance policies. The Obama administration is considering the idea.

Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington, said he wants more explanation for why the Jindal administration is rejecting the billions of dollars in federal health care money that would be used to cover as much as 400,000 uninsured people.

"I personally want to be sold" on the rejection, Schroder said.

He said he's heard from very few people in his district who support Jindal's refusal to expand Medicaid, but he said he's getting a lot of calls pushing for the expansion.

"I think the pressure's going to mount, and I would encourage strongly that we try to come up with our own plan as these other states are doing," Schroder said.

Phillips said the current Medicaid program is too inflexible and inefficient. He said DHH continues to follow negotiations going on in other states on alternative program models under the federal law.

"We're definitely keeping aware of what's going on," he said.

The Appropriations Committee is combing through the details of Jindal's $24.8 billion budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

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