BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Hundreds of people on their death beds who can’t afford private insurance would have to go without end-of-life care in their homes this year if Louisiana goes through with Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan to shutter the state’s Medicaid hospice program in February.
The cut would make Louisiana one of only two states that don’t pay for hospice care through its Medicaid program. Families of the terminally ill and health care workers planned a candlelight vigil Wednesday to protest Jindal’s plan.
Jindal made a series of budget reductions in mid-December to help close a nearly $166 million deficit in the current fiscal year that ends June 30. The hospice decision drew the strongest complaints from lawmakers, with senators pushing the Jindal administration to find another way to trim spending.
Despite the complaints, the Department of Health and Hospitals is continuing with its plan to close the program to new adult recipients on Feb. 1. Cutting the program is estimated to save about $1.1 million in state funding this year and $3.1 million in state funding for the 2013-14 budget year, according to DHH.
The Senate Health and Welfare Committee is considering whether to try to stop the administration’s planned cut at a committee meeting scheduled for next week.
Oklahoma is currently the only state that doesn’t offer hospice care to adults through Medicaid, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.
The Jindal administration has said when cuts are required to the Medicaid program, only a few optional benefits can be reduced without violating requirements for the state’s participation in the program it runs with the federal government. Hospice is an optional program the health department said has been available since 2002.
“When looking at optional Medicaid programs for elimination and setting priorities, the department determined it was more critical to continue pharmacy benefits for adults, hemodialysis and group homes for people with development disabilities,” DHH said in a statement about the hospice cut.
DHH Undersecretary Jerry Phillips has said the hospice cut doesn’t affect anyone currently receiving services.
After the program ends, Phillips said people could seek those services through Medicare and through clergy and nonprofit groups, and he said Medicaid recipients still will have access to medication to relieve pain, through the pharmacy program.
The Alliance for the Advancement of End-of-Life Care, a New Orleans-based nonprofit that is fighting the hospice cut, said providing the care at home through a hospice program costs the state less than through hospitals or emergency rooms.
More than 5,800 people received hospice services through Louisiana’s Medicaid program in the last budget year, according to the health department. Many of those, however, were eligible to receive the end-of-life care through Medicare. About 1,400 received the services in their homes and wouldn’t have been eligible through Medicare.
More Related Stories
- Anonymous rallies behind Kaitlyn Hunt
- Mistrial in penalty phase of Arias case
- My text blew up in my face
- Boy Scouts end ban on openly gay boys
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- Billionaire hedge funder: Babies, breast-feeding "kill" focus, keep women from succeeding
- "Bookless library" set to open in Texas
- Man arrested for sending Craigslist sex party to neighbor's house
- Greek yogurt, toxic waste hazard?
- Glenn Beck: CNN interview with atheist tornado survivor was a setup!
- Incoming BBC news director on journalism gender gap: "We can do better"
- Illegal construction, shoddy materials at fault in Bangladesh factory disaster
- Pope Francis: Atheists are all right!
- Lawsuit alleges anti-gay hiring practices at ExxonMobil
- Boy Scouts poised to vote, still greatly divided on gay youth
- Is recreational pot use safe?
- How I ended up in a pyramid scheme
- My bipolar partner beat me
- Teenagers care more about online privacy than you think
- Radio host tweets rape joke, blames journalists for reporting on it
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11