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.

A New Orleans congressman is asking Gov. Bobby Jindal to reconsider his position against expanding Louisiana's Medicaid program, as allowed under the federal health care overhaul.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond sent the Republican governor a letter Monday saying as many as 400,000 Louisiana residents would be eligible to get insurance under the Medicaid expansion.

Richmond says low-income families wouldn't have a viable plan for getting coverage without the expansion, which covers adults up to 133 percent of the poverty level.

Lawmakers criticize few details in state health cuts

Jul 23, 2012

Louisiana lawmakers are bristling about getting few details and no ability to decide the $523 million in budget cuts Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has made to health care programs.

Several complained the governor's staff wasn't explaining the gravity of the slashing and the implications on the LSU network of public hospitals and clinics that care for the poor and uninsured.

The cuts are tied to a drop in Louisiana's federal Medicaid funding that was passed in congressional legislation after the state's 2012-13 budget was already crafted.

Jindal hoping for more revenue to fill budget gap

Jul 18, 2012

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.

Sen. Peterson says Louisiana health care "a joke"

Jul 16, 2012

State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson says Gov. Bobby Jindal's decision to refuse expansion of the state's Medicaid program under the recently upheld federal health care law is akin to him signing a death warrant for community hospitals.

Peterson, head of the Louisiana Democratic Party, spoke at the Press Club of Baton Rouge Monday on the Medicaid cuts and the governor's rejection of the federal health care overhaul in Louisiana. The state Department of Health and Hospitals said Friday it will have to cut $329 million from the public health care system run by LSU.

Pennsylvania Cuts Medicaid Coverage For Dental Care

Jul 14, 2012

Marcia Esters needs crowns fused to six of her bottom teeth and new dentures. But because of changes made to Medicaid in Pennsylvania, she now has to pay for it all herself.

"It's thousands of dollars' worth of work that I cannot afford," she says.

Esters also uses a wheelchair. Because she couldn't get get her teeth fixed, she has spent the last few months eating pureed food and avoiding people.

"I don't go anywhere unless I have to," she says. "If you could look or feel halfway decent, it just helps, it really does."

Health care providers and patients who rely on Louisiana's Medicaid program are expected to learn Friday how the Jindal administration plans to slash $859 million in the program that takes care of the poor, elderly and disabled.

The cuts are tied to a congressional reduction in Louisiana's federal Medicaid financing rate.

The reductions will strip 11 percent of the funding from the $7.7 billion Medicaid budget that lawmakers passed for the fiscal year that began July 1.

Gov. Bobby Jindal's decision against expanding the state's Medicaid program under the federal health law, combined with a provision that shrinks uninsured care dollars, could leave Louisiana hospitals with far less money to care for those not on private insurance.

Hospital leaders say the situation could leave some LSU-run public hospitals and small rural hospitals teetering on the edge of closure and give them little way to recoup money they spend to care for uninsured patients.

State health secretary says cuts expected by Friday

Jul 11, 2012

Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein says he expects to announce by Friday how he'll divvy up $859 million in cuts to Louisiana's Medicaid program.

The cut is tied to a congressional reduction in Louisiana's federal Medicaid financing rate.

Greenstein didn't offer details Tuesday about what will be slashed. But hospitals, doctors and other health providers are bracing for cuts that could shrink the money they receive for taking care of Medicaid patients and the uninsured.

Ever since the Supreme Court decided last month that an expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act should be optional, quite a few Republican governors have been vowing to take a pass.