Jindal to oppose health care fee increase

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Gov. Bobby Jindal says he won't support increased fees on health care services in Louisiana as a way to help balance the state's budget.

Jindal said Thursday that he considers state fee hikes on hospital visits, nursing home beds and medications - called "provider fees" - a tax increase, and he opposes any sort of tax increases to help offset a $1.6 billion budget shortfall for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

The governor's comments came after a meeting with health care chiefs, lobbyists and lawmakers, as Jindal continues discussions with "stakeholders" about next year's budget problems.

Among the other topics, Jindal says the group talked about ways to use existing local dollars spent at health care facilities to draw down federal matching cash.

No decisions were made Thursday. The governor's budget proposal is due to lawmakers in March.

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