BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Three of the four major candidates running to be Louisiana's next governor say the state's best days are ahead of it, including life for the elderly.
Candidates Rep. John Bel Edwards, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle spoke to hundreds of area seniors Thursday at the Baton Rouge Marriott.
"You haven't had a great partner in the Governor's Office the past eight years. That changes when I'm your new governor," said Rep. Edwards, D-Amite.
As he said during the legislative session, Rep. Edwards wants to bring healthcare coverage to more Louisiana seniors by accepting federal Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. He wants to do that right away.
However, Lt. Gov. Dardenne and Angelle want to ask Washington if they can play by a different set of rules. They say they would request a waiver that would give the state more flexibility with how to structure the expansion.
"I believe in doing things by priorities and determining what's most important for us and making it happen," said Lt. Gov. Dardenne.
On another topic, Dardenne said he would merge the Governor's Office of Elderly Affairs with Veterans Affairs, saying quite often the needs of both departments overlap. But Edwards and Angelle want to create separate departments for elderly affairs.
"We ought to make sure that we give them the kind of service they need," said Angelle. "We do that by creating a government that has a champion at that level working with a governor who knows how to be a champion."
The candidates also differ on whether they support privatizing Medicaid services for seniors and the disabled. Dardenne and Edwards said they support committing to managed care, while Angelle said he does not.
On Wednesday, Gov. Jindal's office said it would no longer carry out its plan to move toward managed care, leaving that in the hands of the next governor. Some voters are weighing their options.
"There have been some situations that have come up within the last eight years of this state. I think it's time for a change," said Larry Luster, a retired East Baton Rouge schools teacher.
Sen. David Vitter said he couldn't make Thursday's forum neither in person or via satellite because he had to be in Washington, DC for a committee hearing.
The election for the governor's race will be on October 24.