LA legislators debate over uninsured numbers

Louisiana legislators continued to debate fundamental issues of health system reform this week, as different factions with different philosophies on public health struggle to assert themselves. To date, Louisiana's legislators haven't been able to agree on the critical issue of how many uninsured patients the state, much less how to pay for their care. This has prevented legislators from having a productive discussion on how to overhaul the state's healthcare system, and whether to fund a replacement for Charity Hospital, which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. To resolve the issue, U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and the state's congressional delegation have asked HHS secretary Michael Leavitt and state Health and Hospitals Secretary Fred Cerise to come up with numbers everyone can accept. Right now, estimates of the state's uninsured range anywhere from 590,000 to more than 800,000. Officials project that only 319,000 could be insured with the state's current indigent care funds.

To catch up on the controversy:
- read this piece from The Times-Picayune