09222017Headline:

2015 State Health-Care Budget Cuts: Stripping away coverage from Louisiana’s low-income

By Jamila Cherif

 

Louisiana Legislature is scrambling to find around $10 million in funding to keep New Orleans’ public health clinics open. These clinics serve more than 60,000 low-income residents, who depend on federal subsidies such as Medicaid for health care. The Louisiana Dept. of Health and Hospitals are facing funding cuts that total nearly $15 million. The severe cuts responsible for imminent clinic closures are part of the solution/torture proposed by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration to fill the $165.5 million hole in the state’s budget.

Gov. Jindal’s package will pull funding from state healthcare services that were created to serve the majority of residents including: Hospice care, psychiatric services and domestic violence programs. The governor and presidential hopeful is standing behind his healthcare cuts. According to Gov. Jindal, ‘’when the subsidies go away, the individuate mandate goes away, the employer mandate goes away. That’s a great thing. That’s a tax cut.’’

The proposal of the governor will probably worsen a health care situation which was already struggling. Moreover, to help the poor and uninsured, Louisiana’s hospitals will require a $142 million increase in funding. The impacts are already showing in the last few weeks at Baton Rouge General Hospital’s emergency room, which unfortunately closed its doors. Consequently, urgent care clinics in that area become overwhelmed, and if there is no considerable improvement (about $10 million in funding) a lot of those clinics will follow suit.

Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert affirmed the department is preparing for eventual cuts. ‘’Whenever we have to make reductions, we look for areas where it doesn’t affect client services,’’ said Ms. Kliebert. ‘’We’re making sure always that we’re trying to protect access to care for all of our Louisiana residents.’’ Secretary Kliebert stated that most of the cuts will be made in contracts. Will this bring any change?

Unfortunately, it almost seems insignificant to face Gov. Jindal’s optimism, who keeps promoting the Obamacare alternative to eliminate the tax break for employer-provided health coverage. Consequently, this will be a disadvantage for more than 2 million Americans on their collective insurance plans.

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