The state will send out letters tomorrow to 37,000 elderly and disabled people, warning them the Medicaid programs which pay for their care could be eliminated on July 1st. It’s possible that legislators will approve funding to avoid the cut, but Louisiana Health Secretary Doctor Rebekah Gee didn’t want to take that chance.

“It would be unfair, in the wake of all of the inaction, to wait any longer. We need people to have a chance to see what other options they have and what they will need to do to make plans,” Gee said.

The state has a 648-million dollar revenue shortfall for next fiscal year and the House approved a budget that reduces funding for several health care services. Gee says they must plan for the elimination of four Medicaid programs that pay for nursing home and long-term care.

“The budget cut is so substantial, 1.8 billion dollars to my department, that we simply cannot function as we did before with this budget and we need to take action,” Gee said.

Some legislators say the letters are going out too soon and the funding problems can be fixed before July 1st. But Dardenne says it’s prudent to get these notices out now, so impacted patients can find other options.

“So, they can start looking at possible alternative plans or coming forward and saying, ‘I may not be eligible under this program, but this is my situation. Where am I eligible?’” said Dardenne.