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Jan 23, 2013 5:24 AM by AP

Vigil planned to protest Medicaid hospice cut

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Families of the terminally ill and health care workers are holding a protest of Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to shutter the state's Medicaid hospice program in February.

Supporters of the program, which provides at-home, end-of-life care for people who can't afford private insurance coverage, scheduled a candlelight vigil Wednesday at the capitol.

Jindal made a series of budget cuts in mid-December to help close a nearly $166 million deficit in the current fiscal year. The hospice decision has drawn the strongest complaints from lawmakers, and a Senate committee is considering whether to reject plans to shut down the program.

Health and Hospitals Undersecretary Jerry Phillips said the hospice cut doesn't affect anyone currently receiving services. He said people could seek those services through Medicare and through clergy and nonprofit groups.

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