Louisiana's health agency must save $56 million on drugs for Medicaid patients to help balance the state budget, but doesn't yet have a final plan for doing that.
A top aide to health Secretary Bruce Greenstein say the changes will take effect Oct. 1, and emergency rules will be published in September.
Legislators, pharmacy interests and others tell The Advocate they are concerned about the lack of transparency and what they call a rush to make changes that need caution to avoid damaging health care. Consumer groups worry about restricted drug access.
Colleges and universities across northeastern Louisiana have seen decreases in summer enrollment this year. Officials believe it's likely because of the economy and the loss of certain federal grant funding offered during the summer.
Summer Pell Grants, which provided need-based grants to low-income undergraduate and certain post-baccalaureate students, were eliminated from last year's federal budget because of financial constraints.
Gov. Bobby Jindal says he's confident LSU's network of public hospitals and clinics will protect health care services, despite cuts that strip a quarter of the system's funding.
Lawmakers have said they don't understand how the university-run health care system can shrink its budget by $329 million this year without shutting facilities that take care of the poor and uninsured.
But Jindal on Tuesday told reporters that "LSU is well on their way to presenting a plan that's going to protect critical services."
The LSU Athletic Department is making a $4 million contribution to the university to help with budget challenges in the 2012-13 fiscal year.
The transfer is the single largest contribution from Athletics to Academics in school history. Director of Athletics Joe Alleva says being able to make such a contribution is a "real credit to LSU's fans and alumni who support the Tigers."
Almost 60 years since it opened, the Southeast Louisiana Hospital — a psychiatric facility that gained national notoriety in 1959 when then-Gov. Earl Long was briefly committed there — is preparing to close down its daily operations.
The Times-Picayune reports that the hospital's closing is part of an $859 million cut to the state's federal Medicaid program.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals hopes to send all 176 beds occupied at the hospital to other public and private hospitals in the state.
Louisiana gives out about $4.4 billion in tax breaks to businesses and individuals each year. A look at the major categories of taxes collected and tax exemptions in the just-ended 2011-12 budget year, according to estimates from the state revenue department:
Nicholls State University and the University of Southeastern Louisiana are laying off employees.
Louisiana State University, though, says it will cut its budget without firing employees.
The state's public colleges and universities are absorbing a fifth round of budget cuts since 2008. In the new budget, higher education was cut by $66 million, bringing total cuts since 2008 to $420 million.
Southeastern, in Hammond, says it will lay off 36 faculty and staff members and eliminate 80 vacant positions. The university says it's cutting $13 million overall.
LSU System President William Jenkins says decisions haven't been made about how to strip $329 million from the university's hospital system. He offered no assurances to lawmakers that hospitals and clinics wouldn't be faced with closure.
A leader of Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration warned Thursday that hospital cuts could be worse if state income estimates don't improve to fill the remaining gap in the Medicaid budget.
Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein told House members any additional cuts would "fall primarily on the LSU hospitals."
Even with $523 million in announced health care cuts, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has slashed only two-thirds of the spending needed to close the entire gap in Louisiana's Medicaid budget.
The administration is banking on better-than-expected revenue projections to close the remaining budget hole.
If that doesn't pan out in the next few months, more reductions are on the horizon. And even if the funding does show up, there could be legal hurdles to accessing the cash to fill the Medicaid budget.