On March 13th, 2013, the Louisiana Senate and House Insurance Committees will gather to hold a special hearing on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  Lawmakers are hoping to learn more about the effects of the federal health care reform law, and what impact that will have on the possible expansion of Louisiana's Medicaid program for the poor.

With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, many legislators are wondering how Louisiana will have to expand or change the current Medicaid program to provide health care services to more citizens here in the state.

They are also looking for answers on how Louisiana will put together a health insurance exchange program to offer affordable health insurance coverage.

As Senator Dan "Blade" Morrish, chairman of the Senate Committee on Insurance, explains,

"Despite much speculation to the contrary over the last several years, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. We want to hear from all of those involved on all sides of the issue to help us determine what is the right thing to do for Louisiana and our citizens when it comes to deciding how to implement the health care reforms in our state. There is too much at stake not to do otherwise."

He says the goal of the meeting is to provide a forum for a "reasoned, frank" discussion of all of the issues involved.

Senator Morrish says several non-partisan groups plan to address the committees to give them information on what the federal health care reform laws do and do not do.  He says in addition to those groups, individuals and groups both for and against fully implementing the federal law in Louisiana will have have their say at the meeting.  He says their goal is to discuss the plan and collect information.  He says no votes will be taken on the health care proposals.

"We want to hear from everyone. We will ask the hard questions and we expect clear, detailed responses to those questions," Sen. Morrish said.

Full implementation of the federal health care reform law is set for 2014. The special legislative hearing is set for Wednesday, March 13, 2013 beginning at 9:30 a.m. in House Committee Room 5 in the basement of the state capitol.