Jan 3, 2011 8:10 PM by Alison Haynes
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The state health department will reshuffle dollars within its budget to fill a $19 million shortfall that has emerged in the state's Medicaid program, without making new budget cuts, Gov. Bobby Jindal said Monday.
Also, the Department of Health and Hospitals plans to reverse cuts it had made to the Medicaid rates paid to hospitals for taking care of pregnant women and sick babies.
Jindal announced the developments after meeting with dozens of Louisiana hospital leaders about financing plans, as complaints have grown louder that continued cuts to the Medicaid program are damaging health services and patient care.
The latest deficit in the $6.5 billion government insurance program that cares for the poor, elderly and disabled was caused by more people using Medicaid services than expected in the current fiscal year that ends June 30.
It comes on top of a $50 million deficit earlier this year that prompted budget cuts, including the reductions to hospital rates for premature and sick babies that Jindal said will be reversed and that had generated loud objections from state lawmakers.
The governor said DHH has enough savings in its other programs to offset the latest deficit. Meanwhile, the department will use a recent federal performance bonus for enrolling uninsured children in Medicaid to help undo the cuts to the infant care program, Jindal said.
Other cuts to doctors, hospitals and health providers will continue as planned, though Jindal said his administration is working with providers on new ways to maximize federal funding sources available for the state's Medicaid program.