Obama defends ‘Louisiana purchase’

President Obama defended a controversial healthcare provision today that opponents say is intended to buy the vote of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).

The so-called “Louisiana purchase” would give extra Medicaid funding to any state in which every county has been declared a disaster area. Louisiana would qualify due to Hurricane Katrina. Hawaii may also qualify due to the recent earthquake.

Obama said today that while the provision has been called a “special deal,” it’s simply the right thing to do.

“That provision, which I think should remain in, said that if a state has been affected by a natural catastrophe, that has created a special health care emergency in that state, they should get help,” Obama told Fox News’s Bret Baier in an interview that will air tonight.

“Louisiana, obviously, went through Katrina, and they’re still trying to deal with the enormous challenges that were faced because of that…that’s not just a Louisiana provision. That is a provision that affects every state that is going through a natural catastrophe.”

Landrieu has defended the provision, saying that Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal (La.) asked her to secure additional funding for the state.

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