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GOP Balks As State Warns Of Possible Medicaid Cuts

Wallis Watkins

The state is sending out 37,000 letters to Medicaid recipients across Louisiana today, warning them their coverage could run out July 1 if cuts to the state budget aren’t restored. 

Nearly half the letters will be sent to nursing home residents who rely on Medicaid dollars for their long-term care.

"This letter is scary, but its not a tactic.  This is the reality that we're facing," warns Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne.  

Dardenne says this is the result of funding cuts that were approved by the House.

But Rep. Lance Harris (R-Alexandria), who voted in support of the budget, say these letters are premature.

"It's an unnecessary political scare tactic done to intimidate and frighten the most vulnerable people into believing they will be kicked out on the street if the Governor doesn't get everything that he wants in the form of revenue," he said at a press conference Wednesday.

The House cleared a budget with deep cuts to health care, passing the funding responsibility to the Senate.

"We don't even know what the senate is going to do yet. They may fully fund the department of health by the end of this week," says Harris.

Sen. Danny Martiny (R-Metairie) is Chairman of the Senate Republicans. He agrees it's early for the administration to be sending out these letters.

"We have every intention by the end of this week to come out with a budget and we have no intention of putting these people out on the street," he says. 

Rebekah Gee is the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health. She says sending out these letters is not something the department wants to do, but it's important to give people as much time as possible to plan.

"We've really tried underscore that these are real people, and we've told the stories. And it's just inaction, so unfortunately we have to act. And it's not easy," she says.