The Advocate is reporting Thursday that three firms — Barclays Capital, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Keegan — are the finalists for securing a state contract to advise Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration on the feasibility of privatizing the state-administered Office of Group Benefits. The OGB administers health insurance for thousands of current and former state employees and their dependents.

During the recent legislative session lawmakers balked at Jindal’s push to privatize the agency, which has a $500 million surplus. Jindal has argued privatization would save the state money. However, a privatization analysis done by a New Orleans firm, which Jindal’s office refused to divulge to lawmakers and did so only after legislators issued a subpoena for it, showed that premiums for OGB clients would likely go up under privatization. Jindal also fired the OGB’s former director, who opposed the plan.

Jindal maintains that this latest development is merely exploratory, telling The Advocate, “It’s worth at least doing the analysis” and adding that the state will “only move forward if it makes sense.”

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