State of Louisiana to No Longer Pay for Medicaid Hospice Care

Medicaid To No Longer Cover Hospice Care.

Late last month, Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospital announced that effective February 1, 2013, the State’s Medicaid program would no longer reimburse for hospice services to new hospice patients at home and in nursing facilities.  However, those currently in hospice care will keep services.

The cut in hospice services is part of $165 million in proposed state budget cuts.  State officials say the cuts are needed because of revenue shortfalls, with the budget needing to be balanced by the end of the fiscal year.

According to State Administration, Medicaid paid for approximately 5,189 patients receiving hospice care in 2012, an average of $2,202.81 per patient.  They contend that the cut will save the State more than $10 million in 2014.  The Louisiana-Mississippi Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (LMHPCO) argues that hospice care costs ¼ of what the same treatments would cost in hospitals.  They also state that in 2009, Arizona eliminated its Medicaid hospice benefits, but quickly reinstated after just one year, when Medicaid costs rose by an estimated 4.4%.

At HEALTHCAREfirst, we know the value of hospice care.  These cuts not only affect the over 140 hospices in Louisiana, but the thousands of Medicaid patients who would be eligible for hospice services this year.  Hospice allows people to die at home with dignity, receiving not only medical, but emotional and spiritual support for them and their families.  These patients deserve better than spending their last days or weeks in a hospital.

What are your thoughts about the State of Louisiana cutting Medicaid payments for hospice care?  Are you concerned about this happening in your state?