Seventeen thousand of Louisiana's nursing home residents will soon receive notice that they may no longer be eligible for a Medicaid program that helps pay for their care.
The Louisiana Department of Health is expected to begin sending out notification letters later this week, in anticipation of a nearly half billion dollar cut for the budget year that starts July 1.
“Anyone that would have monthly income of $750 or more would no longer be eligible," said Mark Berger, Executive Director of the Louisiana Nursing Home Association. Berger says the change would impact 80 percent of those receiving Medicaid funds for long-term care services.
Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health Michelle Alletto says the concern is that many of these recipients may not have an alternative outside of the nursing home. "They may have a family member they can move in with, but many of them we know do not," Alletto said.
According to federal rules, the Department must try and find other funding options for these Medicaid recipients before being eliminated from the program. Alletto says while other sources of funding may be out there, "we're not incredibly optimistic that there will be other options to cover all of their long-term care costs."
Revenue could still be raised in a special session to avoid major cuts like this one to the Department of Health. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says the state has waited as long as possible to send out these notices while those budget negotiations continue.
"We can't just afford to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that we may not have to face the reality of where we are with the budget right now," Dardenne said.
The budget bill is currently in the hands of the Senate Finance committee, led by Sen. Eric LaFleur (D-Ville Platte). He says in its current form, with more than $600 million in cuts, the bill doesn’t have the support of the committee.