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Medicaid Cuts Take Effect Friday

Nearly $52 million in state cuts to Medicaid services go into effect Friday, Feb. 1. The reductions are part of the Dept. of Health and Hospitals’ response to a mid-year shortfall in Louisiana’s general fund.

The cuts include the elimination of dental benefits for pregnant women and a healthy parenting program for first-time mothers who qualify for Medicaid. Additionally, the rate paid to hospitals and physicians for non-primary care services through Medicaid will be dropped by 1 percent.

A previous round of cuts to the healthcare program for low-income and disabled residents was announced in July.  A Congressional revision to the Medicaid matching rate for Louisiana resulted in a $287 million loss in state general funds. The brunt of those cuts have been shouldered by the LSU charity hospital system, forcing them to form partnerships with private healthcare institutions to stay afloat.

Gov. Bobby Jindal has also declined to participate in an expansion of Medicaid that will roll-out in 2014 as outlined in the federal Affordable Care Act. Jindal calls that expansion plan too expensive. To lower overall costs, Louisiana’s governor is advocating more flexibility for states with regard to eligibility, benefit design, cost-sharing, and access to the private insurance market for Medicaid enrollees.