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Proposed Medicaid Cuts in Louisiana and California Would Affect Long-Term Care

May 31, 2012

In recent weeks, two states have proposed significant cuts that would have dire effects on their ability to care for elders and people with disabilities.

Louisiana Proposes Medicaid Cuts

Lawmakers in Louisiana have recommended that nearly $157 million be trimmed from the state’s Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) budget.

More than $50 million of that money would come from Medicaid reimbursements to vendors. Medicaid payments to providers would be cut by 3.7 percent.

The cuts to state Medicaid funds would trigger a reduction in matching federal funds as well. Louisiana stands to forfeit up to $100 million in federal Medicaid funding if it follows through with the lawmakers’ proposed cuts.

Roma Kidd, the executive director of ARCO, an organization that provides home and community-based care to people with developmental disabilities, told the Monroe News-Star, “Our community has helped us as much as the community can, so now, when we face cuts, we have to cut services….If there isn’t money to do the program, you just can’t do the program.”

A separate proposal would forbid Louisiana from making alternate use of any federal Medicaid dollars intended for eldercare. The state is currently paying back the federal government millions of Medicaid dollars that were misspent by a previous Legislature.

Voters will decide whether to enact this amendment to the state constitution in this year’s November elections.

California Gov. Requests $1 Billion in Medicaid Cuts

California Governor Jerry Brown (D) announced on May 14 that the state will need to enact sharp, across-the-board cuts to close its $16 billion budget gap — including a $1.2 billion cut to Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program.

Brown’s budget would result in a 7 percent cut to the state’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program, which provides care to nearly 450,000 elders and people with disabilities who have Medicaid.

Earlier this year, a proposed 20 percent cut to IHSS was blocked by a federal judge for violating the American with Disabilities Act.

Activists have spoken out against Brown’s proposal.

Vanessa Aramayo of the Health and Human Services Network of California, a coalition that works to support low-income and middle-class Californians, told the Christian Science Monitor that “it is unconscionable to allow California’s social safety net to be further dismantled at a time when our families need it most.”

If enacted, Brown’s cuts would likely put California’s Medi-Cal caregivers in an even more tenuous economic situation. In April, UCLA researchers reported that a majority of those caregivers are already at economic risk.

– by Matthew Ozga

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