Want a preview of how things might be shaping up in Louisiana’s latest round of budget and tax negotiations as the $1 billion budget gap nears? The clash between Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and a group of House Republicans over multibillion-dollar Medicaid contracts reinforces expectations the road to a possible budget deal will be a rocky one.

The two sides seem unable — or unwilling — to see eye-to-eye on matters of state finances, an indication that compromise likely will be difficult to reach on another round of haggling over taxes to balance the state budget in the spring.

The latest financial feud centers on $15.4 billion in Medicaid contract extensions sought by the governor to continue having five private companies manage the care of 90 percent of Louisiana’s Medicaid patients, about 1.5 million people, half of them children.

Republicans on the Legislature’s joint budget committee stalled a vote on the 23-month extensions in October, and a majority of House GOP lawmakers voted down the contracts twice this month. They’ve raised concerns about the cost of the deals, the process for developing them and oversight of the spending.

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Clash over Medicaid deals may influence tax debate