Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Give Us the Facts

Posted By on Wed, Oct 15, 2008 at 10:57 PM

John Matessino, President & CEO, Louisiana Hospital Association, today called on the state Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) to provide the Legislature and the public with facts and figures to back up its call for cuts in Medicaid payments to hospitals and physicians. The Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget will meet at 9 a.m. Friday in Baton Rouge to consider DHH’s request for reduced payments.

 

In a statement released to the media late Wednesday, Matessino warned that additional cuts in Medicaid payments could negatively affect already strapped community hospitals, patients who seek care under the Medicaid system, people who go to emergency rooms for treatment and citizens with private insurance who will be forced to pay higher premiums to cover the shortfalls.

 

DHH could not be reached for comment.

 

Here is Matessino’s message:

 

“On Friday, Oct. 17, the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget will once again be considering the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals’ (DHH) proposed plan to cut Medicaid payments to hospitals and physicians. These cuts would be harmful to our community hospitals and would negatively impact our state’s most vulnerable citizens — children, the elderly and the poor.

 

These cuts are being pursued by DHH because of an $81 million “projected” budget deficit. However, last year’s Medicaid State Fiscal Year End Report indicated a $254 million surplus. As of this date, no budget specifics or assumptions have been provided to the public to substantiate the projected budget deficit in the current fiscal year. The (Louisiana Hospital) Association has requested historical expenditure and trend information for the entire Medicaid program, as well as the specific assumptions used by DHH to project the current budget deficit. To date, DHH has not provided details about which hospitals will be affected and to what extent or the specific assumptions they used to determine the budget deficit.

 

Louisiana’s community hospitals made a commitment to their communities to be transparent, and now we call upon DHH to be transparent as well. The budget committee should be given concrete facts and details on which to base this critical health-care decision. Provider groups and legislators should be given the opportunity to come to the table and discuss alternative solutions, instead of being forced to accept a plan that will limit access to affordable health care for all!

 

DHH is already paying hospitals below cost for Medicaid. So how will these cuts to an already under-funded program affect the community? We may all be facing longer Emergency Room wait times and possible cuts to local health-care services. Moreover, those who are lucky enough to have health insurance will feel these cuts in their pocketbooks, because those who pay for health insurance end up paying for those who don’t have it through higher premiums.

 

We are asking for transparency in government and the opportunity for our legislators to make responsible, carefully-planned decisions to avoid further damage to Louisiana’s community hospitals and health-care system.”

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