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DHH facing deep cuts, program eliminations

Louisiana Politics

POSTED: Monday, May 14, 2012 - 9:15pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - 8:28am

After $268 million of one-time funding was slashed out of the state's budget by fiscally conservative House members, the Department of Health and Hospitals is bracing for deep cuts once again.

"We're cutting very critical services to a critical population while money is sitting in front of us," said DHH Secretary Bruce Greenstein.

House members passed the budget Friday, requiring the state's commissioner of administration to find where to cut out the one-time funds. Most likely they'll come from healthcare and higher education.

"The reduction would jeopardize Medicaid payment processing as well as the Medicaid eligibility data systems," said Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater.

Greenstein said this means a reduction of $100 million for his department and $350 million when coupled with matching Medicaid funds.

Greenstein laid out exactly what those cuts would mean, saying it would spell the end of many DHH programs. The school-based Health Center Program and Early Steps for small, disabled children will be eliminated. Greenstein also said there will be an almost ten-percent reduction in payments to doctors and dentists.

"Very difficult to keep programs caring for very a vulnerable population," Greenstein said of the cuts.

The Access to Recovery program for behavioral health will also be eliminated.

As the Senate takes on the state budget bill, DHH hopes they can save them from the cuts, imposed by members of the House.

"This is the consequence of the House action of Friday, not to use one time money in the budget," Greenstein said.

The Senate Finance Committee is still looking over the state operating budget. If they approve it, it will then move on to be seen by the entire Senate.

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