Ask Louisiana Not to Cut Important Health Services for the Poor

Babies

Target: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

Goal: Stop pending cuts to healthcare services for Lousiana’s poor citizens

Although a plan to cut hospice services for Medicaid recipients was recently scrapped, Louisiana has other imminent plans to cut services for the poor. Governor Bobby Jindal still has plans to implement massive cuts for Medicaid programs that “provide behavioral health services for at-risk children, offer case management visits for low-income HIV patients and pay for at-home visits by nurses who teach poor, first-time mothers how to care for their newborns.”

Cuts to the Medicaid program include physical therapy and speech therapy rehabilitation services for nursing home residents and also dental benefits to pregnant women through Medicaid. Additionally, hospitals and doctors will be paid less when they care for Medicaid patients. The cuts are set to begin this month and represent a series of reductions Jindal announced at the end of 2012 to close a budget deficit.

Jan Moller, head of the Louisiana Budget Project, which advocates for low- to moderate-income families, said he’s most distressed by the cut to the Nurse-Family Partnership Program. “What the Nurse-Family Partnership does goes above and beyond what a good obstetrician does,” Moller said. “It’s really about teaching life-skills to at-risk moms to make them better parents and make them better able to care for their children, and it’s been proven to work.”

While Jindal’s administration officials argue that individuals undergoing the cuts could seek the services elsewhere, the reality is that many of these specialty services are unavailable, or unaffordable, outside of Medicaid. Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein said in many instances, people can get the care they’re losing through other government-funded programs. But he acknowledged that won’t happen in every case, meaning some people will ultimately lose the services. 

Speech therapy programs for low-income children are also set to be cut. The cuts, as well as Jindal’s proposals to raise taxes on the poor while slashing public education and other health care funding, are more likely to raise health care costs and poverty levels in a state that already ranks among America’s least-insured and most impoverished by forcing people poor people to seek services that they will no longer be able to afford.

Ask Governor Jindal and the state of Louisiana to preserve these important services.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Governor Jindal,

You have recently spoken in length on the Republican Party’s need to stop being “the stupid party,” yet many of the policies that you have pursued for your state are some of the most regressive in the country. In 2011, your state ranked 49th in overall health. Poverty levels in your state are also among the worst in the nation. Making cuts to these crucial services will negatively impact both of these rankings and hurt the well being of so many of your constituents.

These programs you plan to cut are designed to create strong and healthy families, giving them an opportunity to succeed and lift themselves out of difficult situations. Without them, poor Louisianans will slip further into the cracks and confines of structural poverty. We urge you to please look at other ways to face the budget crisis in your state, and preserve these important services for Louisiana’s most vulnerable citizens.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Симилак via Creative Commons License

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