Starting this Thursday, some 37,000 people with disabilities and elderly residents of Louisiana are slated to receive notice from the state that their Medicaid benefits will expire July 1 if the state budget is approved. Of those people, 17,000 live in nursing homes, and will be kicked out if they don’t find some other way to pay, Baton Rouge’s The Advocate reported Monday night.
On April 19, the Louisiana House passed a state budget with $648 million in cuts to balance the expiration of temporary state taxes, which the budget—as approved—did not renew. That includes a program to provide long-term nursing home and home care.
One House Republican, not realizing how deeply he was telling on his corrupt ideology, said, according to Nola.com: “This is what a responsible budget looks like, dealing with the actual figures, the actual money that is available to the state today.” Yep, this is what it looks like when you prize tax cuts and balanced budgets over human lives: People lose their health insurance, and old ladies get kicked out of nursing homes onto the street.
The impact of the cuts can’t be overstated. Hospitals will be forced to close, USA Today reported:
Last week one of the state’s safety net hospitals, Lafayette General, sent notices to 800 employees that the medical center will close and they will lose their jobs under the budget being debated now. The other safety net hospitals are expected to follow suit.
And the head of one nursing home company in the state warned to Nola.com that the shock of the notices alone could literally kill some recipients:
[Former House Speaker Jim] Tucker also said some residents — such as those who don’t have a family that can take them in — could die from the stress. Many aren’t aware that their Medicaid services are on the chopping block, he said.
“If those notices go out, they will kill people,” Tucker, a Republican who represented the New Orleans area, said last month in an interview.
According to Tucker, 1,000 of his company’s 1,600 nursing home residents would lose coverage under the proposed cuts.
It’s now up to the Louisiana Senate to come up with a budget that saves these Medicaid recipients before the beginning of the new fiscal year on July 1. The federal government would have to approve the cuts, which it might not do, although the Trump administration’s record on funding Medicaid could provide a clue on where they might land. Even if they do not approve the cuts, the state would still have to find more money:
House Republican leaders who pushed the budget that eliminated these programs have brought up repeatedly that the federal government could stop the Medicaid programs from being eliminated. However, they haven’t offered a plan about what would happen if the cut was blocked. If that happens, the state would have to find $281 million, and so far no one has offered suggestions about a source for that money.
It really seems like extending those states taxes might be a good idea. Or, I don’t know, maybe Jeff Bezos can help?