Baton Rouge, La. (May 10, 2018) – The Louisiana Department of Health will begin mailing notices tomorrow to nearly 37,000 Medicaid enrollees informing them their eligibility may end on July 1, 2018.
These official notices alert senior citizens and individuals with developmental disabilities who receive care in a nursing home, in other long-term care facilities and through waivers for community-based services that their benefits may end July 1 or upon federal approval.
These letters are in response to emergency rules being filed to begin the termination process. Included in the letter is information about which programs may be cut as well as guidance for recipients to determine whether they are eligible for Medicaid through some other mechanism.
“We recognize the significant impact these cuts will have on the residents of our state and their health. These are not cuts we want to make, but the fundamental truth remains these are cuts we are being forced to make considering the lack of funding available for critical health care services,” said Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health Gee. “There are no good options.”
In order to address the State’s budget shortfall, the Department continues to face unprecedented cuts with a total reduction estimated to be more than $1.8 billion, of which more than $537 million is state general fund dollars.
Gee said the elimination of Medicaid eligibility is an unprecedented action that will have real and dire consequences.
“When the Department is forced to reduce the size of its budget by this magnitude, the only way we can reduce expenditures is to cut services, programs or eligibility not mandated by federal Medicaid rules,” said Gee. “Because most of those who receive these letters live in some type of facility – a nursing home or a facility that provides for the needs of a person with a disability, the reality is they will lose more than their health care, they will lose what they know as their home.”
The loss of eligibility will affect many seniors with a small monthly income who receive housing and care in a nursing home through Medicaid. Officially called the Long Term Special Income Limit program, 83 percent of the people currently living in nursing homes or other institutions will be displaced from their residence.
This eligibility also covers individuals with adult-onset disabilities who receive services through programs, such as the Adult Day Health Care Waiver, Community Choices Waiver and PACE. Up to 67 percent of the ADHC Waiver recipients, up to 62 percent of the Community Choice Waiver recipients and up to 80 percent of PACE recipients would lose Medicaid eligibility.
Individuals with developmental disabilities are also impacted by this potential loss of coverage. Over half of the individuals currently served in the New Opportunities, Children’s Choice, Supports, and Residential Options Waivers will lose access to those programs.
The department is preparing for ripple effects from this loss of eligibility, notifying community social service agencies and hospital emergency rooms that they may be inundated with patients with nowhere else to go. In addition, there is a strong possibility that some people face homelessness.
“We have alerted social service agencies, health care providers, advocates for the elderly and people with disabilities, religious organizations and other human service and community organizations of what to expect,” Gee added. “But, we know there is not the capacity to effectively and humanely deal with this situation.”
In addition to the letters going out today, the Department is preparing to send an additional 1.1 million letters to Medicaid recipients alerting them that some Medicaid funding and services may also be eliminated. These include payments to private hospitals that care for uninsured and poor citizens (some have already indicated they will close), some mental health and substance use disorder services, and day care for medically fragile pediatric patients.
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About the Louisiana Department of Health
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state residents. The Louisiana Department of Health includes the Office of Public Health, Office of Aging & Adult Services, Office of Behavioral Health, Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities, and Healthy Louisiana (Medicaid). To learn visit www.ldh.la.gov or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or our blog.