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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Letters to Louisiana Medicaid recipients warn budget cuts could threaten programs

Posted By on Wed, May 9, 2018 at 2:40 PM

click to enlarge Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, Health Secretary Rebekah Gee and Deputy Secretary Michelle Alletto spoke today about letters informing 37,000 Medicaid recipients that they may lose coverage. - PHOTO BY DEVON SANDERS/LSU MANSHIP SCHOOL NEWS SERVICE
  • PHOTO BY Devon Sanders/LSU Manship School News Service
  • Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, Health Secretary Rebekah Gee and Deputy Secretary Michelle Alletto spoke today about letters informing 37,000 Medicaid recipients that they may lose coverage.

The Louisiana Department of Health will begin mailing notices this week to 37,000 people enrolled in Medicaid to warn that some of their health care coverage could end July 1 due to proposed budget cuts.

The proposed state budget approved by the House could axe four programs covering nursing care patients, people with developmental disabilities and patients receiving at-home care — pending action from Senate lawmakers or Gov. John Bel Edwards and warning letters from the federal government to patients within at least 10 days in advance of those cuts.
"You are getting this letter because you or someone in your household is currently enrolled in Louisiana Medicaid through the Provisional Medicaid, Medically Needy, Medically Needy Spenddown or Long Term Care Special Income level program.

Because of possible budget cuts, these programs may end as of July 1, 2018, but the federal government must first approve ending the programs."
People affected by the cuts include more than 7,000 people receiving home health coverage and 2,700 people with developmental disabilities, as well as more than 19,000 nursing home patients across the state, including 1,959 people in New Orleans, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

Sixty-two percent of nursing home residents are covered under Medicaid in the U.S., according to a 2017 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Nearly 75 percent of nursing home residents in Louisiana are covered with Medicaid.

In a statement from Louisiana Nursing Home Association executive director Mark Berger, the cuts "would force these senior and disabled residents out of Louisiana's nursing facilities overnight which would lead to the closure of most, if not all, nursing facilities," impacting not only program-eligible patients but patients paying for care through private insurance. Roughly 31,000 nursing home patients qualify for Medicaid-assisted nursing home care last year, according to the LDH.

Managers of nursing homes operated by the Archdiocese of New Orleans told WWL-TV that the cuts could force their closure; "70 to 75 percent of the residents" are on Medicaid.

The letter says the state will review each patients' information to determine whether they qualify for another Medicaid program.

House Republicans called the letters "premature nursing home eviction notices" in response to a press conference from Health Secretary Rebekah Gee and Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne announcing the threats to health care funding.

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