Local hospices are banding together to lobby against recent state budget cuts. The Jindal Administration is eliminating hospice care for Medicaid patients in an effort to save the state more than $10 million.
Local Hospice representatives say this measure could be more expensive since many of these patients will end up in the emergency rooms instead.
According to the Louisiana-Mississippi Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, there are around 1,800 Medicaid patients using hospice care in Louisiana and about 500-600 in northwest Louisiana. The average cost per patient is $2,202. Medicaid Hospice patients account for seven percent of Louisiana's Hospice admissions.
Current Medicaid hospice patients will not be affected by the cuts. The cuts will take effect Feb. 1. They will not affect hospice patients that use Medicare to pay for services.
"We're hoping that they do change their mind and they're able to lobby to rescind this decision," said Molly Sanders, Administrator of LifePath Hospice. "Even if it affects just a handful of people, it still affects some and that's our main focus."
Sanders said they will still care for Medicaid patients but they'll only be able to accept a handful at a time. The rest they'll have to turn away.
Several hospice directors in the area have sent letters to Governor Jindal, asking him to reverse the cuts.