Proposed Louisiana health care cuts eliminate mental health, substance abuse, adult day care services

Very few vulnerable adult populations in Louisiana — including those who are elderly, developmentally disabled, mentally ill or drug addicts — wouldn’t be affected by the health care cuts Gov. John Bel Edwards included in his state spending proposal Monday (Jan. 22). Thousands of people would lose the support services that keep them living at home and not in an institutional setting under the budget plan introduced by the governor.

The governor has said he doesn’t want to make such cuts and would prefer to raise or renew taxes to avoid these types of reductions to government services. Edwards was forced to design a budget with $994 million worth of state funding cuts for the fiscal year that starts July 1 because over a billion dollars in temporary taxes will expire next summer. He has proposed that two-thirds of those state cuts — about $657 million worth of them — come from health care services.

In reality, the state would end up losing about $2.4 billion of health care funding if Edwards’ health proposal was adopted. Much of the $657 million worth of state funding that would be cut under the governor’s plan is used to draw down federal funding for health care services. Some fees and special taxes on medical providers also couldn’t be collected anymore if state funding cuts were implemented — leaving the hole in the health care budget much larger than the $657 million figure suggests.

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