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DHH says cuts could be 'catastrophic' to Medicaid patients

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BATON ROUGE - The Department of Health and Hospitals said on Wednesday that $131 million in cuts which could come from midyear budget negotiations could be "catastrophic" for those who rely on Medicaid.

DHH Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee said they submitted their plan Wednesday for how to spread the proposed cuts across the Medicaid program. Gee said those cuts are part of a worst-case scenario, and would only happen if the Legislature did not find additional revenue to help plug a $750 million midyear budget hole.

"Both of these options are worst-case scenarios that we hope will not have to be implemented," Gee said. "If this reduction plan becomes a reality, its impact will be felt by almost all residents. Vital health care services across Louisiana will be completely eliminated or diminished if additional revenue is not identified in the upcoming special session."

Among them are a proposal to slash payments to hospitals organized under public-private partnerships, eliminate day care programs for medically-fragile children, and stop waiver programs to pay for senior home health care and assistance for families with children who have development disabilities.

The first plan would cut funding to seven programs, while the second would eliminate all optional Medicaid programs. Either way, Gee said the state would lose additional federal matching dollars for a total budget reduction of $346.5 million.

Under the first plan, state officials would cut funding to many public-private partnerships. This would mean stopping millions in supplemental payments to partner hospitals, and eliminate the Pediatric Day Care program.

Under the second plan, they would keep most payments to partner hospitals but eliminate 13 programs such as the state hospice program, children's choice waiver, adult day health care waiver, and ambulatory surgical center program.

Gee said they are also considering other combinations of spending reductions and program eliminations to add up to the necessary cuts.


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