Temporary fix for Medicaid hospice cuts come as group gathers at Capitol

Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 3:00am

Officials announced a change today to the budget cut proposed by Governor Jindal that would have taken effect next week. The Department of Health and Hospitals says it can use unassgined grant funds to prevent any immediate cuts to Medicaid funded hospice care.

"We worked with legislators and stakeholders to come up with a plan that continues to provide community-based Hospice care for those in need, reforms the way these services are delivered and continues to save taxpayer dollars,” DHH Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein said. “The reformed program will be designed to better control expenditures and ensure efficient and effective care for those who truly need it."

The announcement came at the same time advocates gathered at the steps of the State Capitol to protest Governor Jindal’s cost-cutting measure. The original plan anticipated saving the state $15 million over two years. However, those against the proposal said it would have an adverse effect.

More than 1,800 people across the state received Medicaid hospice care in 2012. Advocates against the cuts say studies indicate that hospice care is actually cheaper than forcing terminally-ill patients to go in and out of the hospital, while also providing a better quality of care. They point to Arizona, which made the same choice in 2009. But a year later, it found that costs had gone up, so it brought back its Medicaid funding.

Today DHH Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein announced that temporary bridge funding can be used to delay the cut until the spring.

"I am thankful to the department for seeking our input as they develop a bridge program to continue hospice services while they work toward a better model of providing this care for Medicaid recipients," said Jamey Boudreaux, Director of the Louisiana-Mississippi Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

A new model will be proposed by DHH to allow Medicaid hospice services for recipients who meet certain criteria. 

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