Senior care in danger of extreme cuts to Medicaid

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People in nursing homes, receiving home-health care, or other services through Medicaid could lose their coverage. A House budget plan massively cuts programs for nearly 37-thousand seniors and people who are disabled. The Louisiana Department of Health announced they will send letters to people who could be affected if the Senate passes the bill as is.

Commissioner Jay Dardenne said these letters are scary but it’s not a scare tactic. Four programs under Medicaid will be affected if this proposed budget moves forward. During a news conference in Baton Rouge, The Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health describes today as “depressing and unprecedented.” 

The department will sending out letters Thursday to people who may no longer qualify for certain Medicaid programs.     

“You’ll see when you read the one page notice that there’s no politics involved. It’s not saying call your legislator, it’s saying call the department of health and let us help you and it’s advising them of what may take place as we barrel towards the cliff,” said Jay Dardenne, Commissioner of the Division of Administration.

This comes after the House of Representatives passed a budget plan that cuts $1.8-billion from the Department of Health. 

“I took the job as Secretary of Health as the Governor directed me to expand Medicaid and to expand access to health care for an unprecedented number of Americans. We have through the Medicaid expansion created full coverage throughout the state and a new day for health care. This notice is exactly the opposite of what we came into these jobs to do. Our hearts are breaking over the need to do this. However we can’t provide services with no money to pay for them.”,” said Dr. Rebekah Gee, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health.

The programs being cut affect several groups including disabled seniors with income below 750-dollars a month, people in nursing homes and facilities for people with developmental disorders.  The largest group affected are those with very low income who need long term care in a facility or at home.

The four programs effect 37-thousand people. It includes the Provisional Medicaid Group where people are 65 and older, disabled and income is below 750-dollars a month. Next is medically needy programs where people have extraordinary health expenses that exceed their income. Many are in nursing homes and facilities for developmental disorders. The fourth is the largest group, effecting 17-thousand people. It’s for long-term care and special income, where people make between $750-2250 a month or less and need institutional level care in a facility or at home. 

“We’ve really tried to underscore these are real people. We see these people, we meet with them, and their families. This is not something we want to do. But we think it’s important to have as much information as possible. Being a caregiver and being someone who needed services myself it’s only fair to let them know,” Gee said.

The Louisiana Department of Health has employees working overtime at their call centers to answer questions. They said you should check to see if you may qualify for other Medicaid programs.

Click here to read about the programs.  Click here to read the letter. 

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