In a victory for disabled, terminally ill, and poor Louisianans, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) has reversed course and decided not to go through with his plan to eliminate hospice care benefits for low-income residents through the state’s Medicaid program, the Associated Press reports.
The Jindal Administration’s reversal comes in the wake of public outrage and candlelight vigils over a budget “austerity” proposal that one hospice care provider equated to “throwing away poor people.” If enacted, Jindal’s plan would have thrown as many as 5,000 terminally ill and disabled Americans receiving hospice care benefits off of public insurance rolls, raising health care costs by forcing sick patients into expensive emergency room care while saving the state a meager $8 million in 2014.
Instead, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals will continue funding the benefits through federal grant money, giving sick, low-income Louisianans some much-needed peace of mind. “The good Lord took care of us today, so we got a fix,” said state Sen. Fred Mills, a Breaux Bridge Republican who vice chairs the Louisiana state Senate Health and Welfare Committee.
But while the Jindal Administration’s decision today is an uncontested victory for Americans at risk of falling through the safety net, Louisiana’s poor are not out of harm’s way just yet. Jindal has proposed one of the country’s most regressive tax proposals, and has slated massive budget cuts to public education and health care program funding.