Louisiana notifying 16K nursing home residents they could be forced out in funding fight

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About 60,000 elderly or disabled Medicaid recipients in Louisiana are being told they should expect to lose their benefits in July, and advocates say more than a quarter of them could be forced out of the long-term care facilities they call home.

The official notifications are the result of a stalemate over the state budget, which expires June 30. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) has proposed eliminating some Medicaid programs that provide long-term care in order to cope with a $994 million deficit.

Those receiving the warnings will include 46,000 Medicaid recipients who qualify for long-term care in a nursing home or at their personal residence, but also have personal income between $750 and $2,250 monthly. In addition, about 14,000 people who get at-home personal care assistance are also likely to lose coverage, the Times Picayune reported.

Some long-term care recipients might qualify for other types of Medicaid, but it won't cover the full cost of those services, according to Jeff Reynolds, the state health department's chief financial officer.

"Whenever you make a change in Medicaid, at a minimum, you have to give everyone a 60-day notice," Reynolds said at a hearing March 13. The advanced notice is required by federal law, a health department official confirmed.

The Louisiana Nursing Home Association estimates about 16,500 residents would be forced out of nursing facilities if the cuts are finalized.

Legislators are trying to avoid the Medicaid cuts by shifting state money or approving new taxes, but they failed to do so in a special session that ended last week. They haven't proposed any alternatives to the cuts the governor proposed.