I am writing this letter to express my disappointment in Rep. Schamerhorn’s vote on Wednesday against House Bill 71.

HB 71 provides a one-time death benefit to the surviving spouse and children of a healthcare worker who died prior to June 5, 2020 because of Covid-19. The benefit is limited to three times the yearly salary of the healthcare worker or $150,000, whichever is less.

Doctors and nurses all across our State are putting their life at risk to go to work during this pandemic in order to treat people in our community. Many of these healthcare workers were forced to go to work without adequate personal protective equipment. Tragically, some of those healthcare workers sacrificed their life to do their job. The very least we can do to honor those healthcare workers who gave the ultimate sacrifice to our State is to try and ease, even a little, the financial impact on their families due to their death.

34 members of the Louisiana House of Representatives voted against HB 71. It is embarrassing that one of those Representatives represents part of Natchitoches Parish. On the other hand, I was proud of Representative Firment’s vote in favor of HB 71.

Just last month, Rep. Schamerhorn voted to give over $100 million in tax relief to oil and gas companies in Louisiana because of the impact Covid-19 on the oil and gas industry. I am not suggesting our State should not help the oil and gas industry get through this difficult situation. But if we can find the money to give the Chevron’s and Exxon’s of the world a tax cut of over $100 million, surely we can find $150,000 for the children and surviving spouses of healthcare workers who lost their life fighting this terrible virus.

Jared Dunahoe


  1. Nurses, doctors, other health care workers have access to Workman’s Compensation. I would think hospitals also provided life insurance. Why More?

    • We give police officers more when they are killed in the line of duty. They get $250k death benefit.

      And employers are already arguing that this isn’t covered by worker’s comp.

  2. Not to defend this guy in any way, I dont know anything about him, but it seems like this would be a dangerous precedent. While we are truly grateful for our healthcare workers who meet nasty situations on a daily basis, we must question this. Define healthcare worker, the parking lot attendant at the hospital, the linen delivery person, how broad is the net? How many die from the flu, how many catch something from a patient, and how do you prove it? What if they got it, not from their job, but somewhere else? What about police or those who kept the grocery stores open? While it’s a feel good gesture, it can get out of hand quickly.

  3. He is counting the pennies. If you give big oil/gas huge tax cuts, then there is less money in state coffers to financially support the families of health care workers, education, roads, infrastructure, etc.

    What they want us, the tax paying, voting citizens to believe is, “what’s good for oil/gas is good for Louisiana.”

    When is Louisiana going to truly assess the cost/benefit of the oil and gas industry? The cost is astronomical when unemployment, negative environmental impacts (that La taxpayers pay to restore and mitigate), and use of infrastructure are factored into the equation. You can bet Chevron, Texaco, Shell, Exxon, etc. do the math before they layoff hundreds of Louisiana workers. Their profit margins need to remain high to insure valuable stock market prices.

    The value of oil/gas shares is what Rep Schamerhorn and his 33 cohorts considered when they voted – not healthcare workers.

    • If you care about the lives of health care workers, then give them what they have been asking since the beginning of this pandemic. Basically, they want you to care whether they live or not. Going around without masks, hand sanitizer, distancing that spread this deadly virus increases their number of infected covid-19 cases they have to deal with. The more the system is stressed, the greater their lives are at risk. They don’t want to get this disease and they can’t just stay home. Just think if they had the selfish attitude “if you don’t want to catch this virus stay home”. Please, please people, try to help control the spread of this disease.

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