In Louisiana, tens of thousands of elderly and disabled people could soon lose their Medicaid benefits because the state faces a budget shortfall of more than $500 million.
Eviction notices are going out today to thousands in nursing homes and group homes.
Betty Waller, 89, is a polio survivor who lives in a nursing home in Baton Rouge. Her life savings pays for part of her care, but Medicaid is needed for the rest. “I won’t be living under a bridge somewhere, but still it’s a really scary thing,” she said.
On July 1, she could be one of about 37,000 people in the state who will lose their Medicaid eligibility if the state doesn’t balance its budget.
Jim Tucker runs 12 nursing homes in the capital and 800 of his patients could be told to leave. “It has the potential to kill people,” Tucker said.
“I’m not scaring anybody by design,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “The cuts are so catastrophic we shouldn’t contemplate them; but as we sit here, the legislature has failed to act in a fiscal session last year and a special session this year.”
Republican Rep. Cameron Henry is head of the Appropriations Committee in the Louisiana House, and he says they want a budget that is sustainable over the long term. He says Republicans may be willing to pass a tax the governor wants.
When asked what Waller, a Baton Rouge resident, would tell lawmakers contemplating the cuts, she replied, “It was something I never thought would be ever taken away… I thought it was here forever.”