BATON ROUGE — Louisiana’s Department of Health will begin sending nursing home eviction notices Thursday to more than 30,000 residents who could lose Medicaid under the budget passed by the state House of Representatives.
“The Louisiana Department of Health is beginning the process of notifying all impacted enrollees that some people may lose their Medicaid eligibility,” Department of Health spokesman Bob Johannessen said. “The goal of the department is to give notice to all affected people as soon as possible in order that they begin developing their appropriate plans.”
Gov. John Bel Edwards’ staff has planned a press conference Wednesday for more details, a day before the notices are set to be mailed to 37,000 Medicaid recipients in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities.
“(The Department of Health) told us they’re sending out the letters May 10,” said Mark Berger, executive director of the Louisiana Nursing Home Association, during testimony at the Senate Finance Committee meeting Monday.
The issue was front and center in Senate Finance, which was hearing public testimony on the budget sent to it by the House for most of the eight hours the panel met.
“This sounds like mass chaos,” said Sen. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, who called the letter notification “very troublesome.”
“What type of people are we in Louisiana if we put people out who built Louisiana?” Sen. Greg Tarver, D-Shreveport, said of the potential evictions. “This is horrible.”
Next year’s budget begins July 1, which is when the evictions could technically begin.
The budget passed by the House and sent to the Senate contains deep cuts to healthcare because of a shortfall of between $550 million and $648 million, depending on who’s doing the calculations.
Next year’s shortfall was created because about $1.4 billion in temporary taxes expire June 30. The bulk of the expiring taxes, about $880 million, comes from a one-cent sales tax.
Last week one of the state’s safety net hospitals, Lafayette General, sent notices to 800 employees that the medical center will close and they will lose their jobs under the budget being debated now. The other safety net hospitals are expected to follow suit.
Edwards wants lawmakers to mitigate the cuts with new permanent taxes in a Special Session, but the Legislature declined to raise any new taxes in a February Special Session.