Expansion Of Medicaid Program To Low-Income Parents Approved

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Louisiana will apply for federal approval to allow low-incomeparents in the New Orleans and Lake Charles areas to be eligible forbasic Medicaid coverage as early as spring 2008, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports. The state Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget on Tuesday gave final legislative approval of the plan (Shuler, Baton Rouge Advocate, 8/15).

Theexpansion is part of Gov. Kathleen Blanco's (D) administration's planto steer uninsured area residents into "medical homes," or HMO-likenetworks of primary care clinics and specialists. Medical providersparticipating in the expanded Medicaid program would agree to bemeasured on quality of care and to implement electronic health recordsto track beneficiaries. State officials estimate that 80% of the 33,000eligible state residents would participate in the program within thefirst five years, according to state Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Fred Cerise.

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Lawmakersallocated $25 million to develop the medical homes program in NewOrleans and Lake Charles and $10 million to develop electronicrecord-keeping systems. The program, when fully implemented in the2011-2012 budget year, is expected to cost almost $96 million, with $26million contributed by the state. In the current budget year, theprogram is expected to cost $4.7 million, with additional federalfunds. The state in the future hopes to expand the program to childlessadults, Cerise said (Moller, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 8/14).

Recovery Report

In related news, a report released on Monday by the joint Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program/Greater New Orleans Community Data Centerfound that the level of basic services in the Orleans and St. Bernardparishes, such as schools, libraries, public transportation and childcare, remain at half of capacity, while fewer than two-thirds ofhospitals and acute-care centers have reopened since Hurricane Katrina,the Advocate reports.

"TheNew Orleans area is on the mend, with many residents back and economyhumming at near pre-Katrina levels. But behind those regional trendsare stark disparities between the recovery of Orleans and St. Bernardparishes and the rest of the region," according to the report (Gyan,Baton Rouge Advocate, 8/14).
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