State Sen. Butch Gautreaux, D-Morgan City, is sounding the alarm about Gov. Bobby Jindal trying again to privatize the Office of Group Benefits, this time outside a legislative session where his plan fell on deaf ears. The OGB is the agency in charge of the health insurance plans for roughly 60,000 state workers and was recently shown to have a $500 million surplus. Lawmakers balked at Jindal’s privatization push during the session.

But in an email this week to members of the Retired State Employees Association, Gautreaux alerted RSEA members that Jindal on Thursday summoned the human resource staff at OGB to report to the Division of Administration. The term-limited Gautreaux, who tore Jindal a new one in his farewell speech on the Senate floor last week, characterized the meeting between the administration and OGB staffers as a gambit by Jindal to again move to privatize the state-operated agency.

Gautreaux urged RSEA members to act quickly:

Your members need to get their stories to the members of the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.  Tell them to make it personal.  Jindal and his kid staff have no idea how frightening it is to a senior or anyone with chronic illness to not know if there medication will be covered or the procedures will be available under a private carrier yet to be announced.

Even if they do understand, there is not an ounce of compassion in their hearts.  You have to have a life experience like most of us have had to understand the fear that many OGB members have at the very threat of losing their coverage.

Unfortunately it appears that the administration is continuing its efforts to privatize the plan.  If you haven’t already done so, let the Governor know that you oppose that move...

The Legislature will have one more chance to exert its oversight on this when the Joint Committee on the Budget considers the eventual contract.

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