BATON Rouge, Louisiana — A delay in a federal court ruling Wednesday assures that Louisiana’s governor must live at least another week with that bothersome MoveOn.org sign on Interstate 10 just outside Baton Rouge.
The sign ridicules the Republican governor for refusing to expand Medicaid health insurance to more than 240,000 of the Bayou State’s working poor.
In the meantime, the progressive organizing group says Mississippi is a target for the same sort of criticism for its refusal to expand health care to the state’s working poor despite a federal offer to cover the full costs for the first three years and 90 percent of the costs from then on. “We’re running campaigns in every state” that turned down participation in the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, a spokesman said.
In Baton Rouge Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Shelly Dick said she planned to rule early next week on the governor’s bid to force removal of the signs. Jindal and his staff argue the signs come too close to imitating both the appearance and message of the state’s tourism campaign signage and slogan: “Louisiana: Pick Your Passion.”
Anna Galland, MoveOn executive director, said Dick wasn’t ready to rule after the nearly two-hour hearing Wednesday.
MoveOn insists it is within its First Amendment free speech rights to erect a billboard that borrows from the state’s visitor campaign.
The billboard states: “Louisiana! Pick your passion! But hope you don’t love your health. Gov. Jindal is denying Medicaid to 242,000 people.”
In a fundraising email late Wednesday afternoon, Galland said “our billboard stays up and our campaign calling out Republicans who are standing between five million Americans and health care through Medicaid continues.”
MoveOn is relishing the Louisiana fight and publicity it has drawn. Unlike Mississippi’s lawmakers, Louisiana politicians are said to be feeling genuine pressure from voters to reverse Jindal’s refusal on Medicaid expansion. The organization unveiled the billboard just days before the Louisiana Legislature’s session starts, when MoveOn hopes lawmakers will vote to increase the Medicaid program, NOLA.com reports.
In Mississippi hardly a word came out of this year’s legislative session regarding the Medicaid expansion issue. State Sen. John Horhn, a Jackson Democrat, introduced a bill on Feb. 6 that died almost instantly.