The Louisiana House of Representatives voted 55-47 to approve a budget that would make substantial cuts to programs and services that help our seniors and disabled Louisianians. With a fiscal cliff looming, we understand that tough financial decisions need to be made, but we encourage our Louisiana legislators to reconsider and think about our elderly and disabled citizens.
At this point, the budget is approved in the Louisiana House and health officials have said it would shutter most of the state's safety net hospitals, hurt medical training programs and eliminate funding for nursing homes forcing thousands out of their skilled nursing facilities. Kicking thousands of Louisiana nursing home residents out of their homes would be nightmare for these senior citizens.
The dreadful spending plan passed by the House of Representatives is now in the hands of the Louisiana Senate where they will consider the budget. We can only hope the Senate will come forward with innovative solutions to manage this financial crisis. These decisions are difficult, but there comes a time when you have to put Republican and Democrat politics aside and simply do what is right.
In a recent article published in The Advocate, Governor Edwards said that the Senate could not fix the House budget. The state is facing a $650 million fiscal cliff when the temporary tax measures expire June 30th. Governor Edwards has been doing his best to urge legislators to extend expiring taxes or come up with new revenue streams to prevent major cuts to state programs. The Governor called a special legislative session recently to address this financial crisis, but it adjourned abruptly without any meaningful solutions.
Sadly, without a prudent legislative financial plan, 60,000 elderly or disabled state Medicaid recipients are being told they should expect to lose their benefits in July and 25% of them could be forced out of the long term care facility they call home according to McKnights LTC News. Can you imagine the emotional distress these older Americans experience when told of this frightening news?
We totally understand how difficult it is for some legislators to support taxes to operate state government, however now is the time when leaders rise to the occasion. Quite frankly, it is much easier to serve when there is plenty of money in the coffers to cover state expenses, but when the financial picture is bleak, legislator's must do what the people elected you to do by taking care of our most vulnerable Louisianians. We urge the Louisiana legislature to stand strong for the elderly and disabled.