Posted: Sep 2, 2014 4:53 PM by Jason Newton
Updated: Sep 2, 2014 5:54 PM
BATON ROUGE - Democrats blasted Governor Jindal over his healthcare policies as the threat to close the emergency room at Baton Rouge General Mid City renewed calls for the governor to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.
Ethel Wicker is grateful for Baton Rouge General having a working emergency room. She lives in Scotlandville and said that her health took a drastic turn for the worse earlier this year.
"If not for the doctor's and staff of Baton Rouge General ER, I would have died," Wicker said, who suffers from breathing complications. "Making it to Our Lady of the Lake, I would have died if I tried to make it to Lake or any place. I believe I would have died."
The emergency room almost closed last week due to financial issues of dealing with uninsured patients. State Democrats lay the blame squarely on Jindal for turning down federal money that would've expanded Medicaid coverage to the poor.
"As the governor continues to stonewall, Louisianians will have accidents, get sick and die," said Senator Sharon Weston Broome, (D) Baton Rouge. "Lives are hanging in the balance."
"These are our tax dollars that we're sending elsewhere," said State Representative Regina Barrow, (D) Baton Rouge. "We want our money to come to our citizens."
The Department of Health and Hospitals secretary said the near-closure of the Mid City emergency room has nothing to do with Medicaid expansion.
"Baton Rouge General already had financial difficulties at Mid City for the last 10 years," Kathy Kliebert said, DHH secretary.
She said expanding Medicaid won't solve the problem.
"There's no indication that Medicaid gives you access to preventative care, that we all want," Kliebert said.
DHH said the $18 million it's giving to keep the emergency room open comes from roll-over money the department had from last year. It's working on solutions for funding the ER in the years ahead.
The state added, its urgent care facility can assist people with care. It opened upon the closure of Earl K. Long. Patients with questions can call the patient help line (877) 578-8255.