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House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, and Lance Harris, R-Alexandria. (Jim Beam / American Press)

House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, and Lance Harris, R-Alexandria. (Jim Beam / American Press)

Proposals would limit cuts in Medicaid program

Last Modified: Monday, May 20, 2013 10:36 PM

By John Guidroz / American Press

BATON ROUGE — The Senate Finance Committee on Monday approved two proposed constitutional amendments intended to bring in more Medicaid money for state hospitals, nursing homes and intermediate care facilities.

The committee voted 9-1 in favor of House Bills 532 and 533 by House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, and Speaker Pro Tem Walt Leger, D-New Orleans. Both measures head to the full Senate for consideration.

House Bill 532 would allow each state hospital to assess a fee that would be put into the Louisiana Hospital Stabilization Fund.

Leger said the fund would draw down additional federal Medicaid money to enhance reimbursement rates. State hospitals are currently being reimbursed for 60 percent of their costs for treating patients. Under the proposed formula, he said hospitals could get closer to 80 percent.

Leger said the legislation is necessary because hospital providers are struggling to figure out “what sort of funding will be available to them during the course of the year.”

Kathy Kliebert, interim secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals, said she was concerned the measure would hurt home- and community-based providers.

“It leaves us with limited places to go in terms of making rate reductions and making changes to programs,” she said.

Leger said 39 other states are using the same formula for the stabilization fund.

HB 533 allows a separate account to be created in the Louisiana Medical Assistance Trust Fund. Leger said it focuses on nursing homes and intermediate care facilities.

Joe Donchess with the Louisiana Nursing Home Association said the money collected in the account will be spent specifically on those programs.

Jan Moller, director of the Louisiana Budget Project, said he is concerned about how it would affect future budget cuts.

Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur, voted in favor of both bills, which would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate.

If approved, they would go before voters during the Nov. 4, 2014 election.

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