BA­TON ROUGE, La.

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS -

Gov. Bobby Jin­dal’s ad­min­is­tra­tion scrapped plans to shut­ter Louisiana’s Med­i­caid hospice pro­gram in Fe­bru­ary. Health and Hos­pi­tals Sec­re­tary Bruce Green­stein an­nounced the re­ver­sal as hospice pro­gram sup­port­ers were gath­er­ing for a can­dle­light vigil on the state capi­tol steps to protest the cut. Green­stein said his de­part­ment will use fed­eral grant fund­ing to con­tinue the ser­vices for the poor and ter­mi­nally ill. Cheers went up across the small crowd of peo­ple gath­ered in what they ex­pected to be a somber vigil. The cut would have made Louisiana one of only two states that don’t pay for hospice care through its Med­i­caid pro­gram, and the plan faced strong re­sis­tance from state sen­a­tors, who were seek­ing ways to avoid shut­ter­ing hospice to new adult re­cip­i­ents Feb. 1. Sen. Fred Mills Jr., vice chair­man of the state Se­nate Health and Wel­fare Com­mit­tee, walked into the vigil crowd to de­liver the news that the Jin­dal ad­min­is­tra­tion had backed away from plans to close the pro­gram. Jin­dal made a se­ries of bud­get re­duc­tions in midDe­cem­ber to help close a nearly $166 mil­lion deficit in the cur­rent fis­cal year that ends June 30. Many of the cuts fell on the De­part­ment of Health and Hos­pi­tals. Ok­la­homa is the only state that doesn’t of­fer hospice care to adults through Med­i­caid, ac­cord­ing to the Kaiser Fam­ily Foun­da­tion. The health de­part­ment in­tends to make changes to the hospice ser­vices to shrink the costs of care and im­prove the pro­gram, Green­stein said. Among the planned changes is a fo­cus on com­mu­nity-based, at-home care. Nurs­ing home res­i­dents will not be el­i­gi­ble for hospice care through Med­i­caid, though it might be avail­able through Medi­care.

AP PHOTO

Gov. Bobby Jin­dal’s ad­min­is­tra­tion backed away from plans to end Louisiana’s hospice pro­gram.

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