Newsflash:
Issues End Corporate Rule LA Medicaid Expansion Louisiana taking away Medicaid lifeline for disabled, other vulnerable residents: Megan McLemore
Friday, 18 April 2014 00:00

Louisiana taking away Medicaid lifeline for disabled, other vulnerable residents: Megan McLemore

Written by  Contributing OpEd Columnist
Rate this item
(0 votes)
Donna Risso, who died April 1, lost her disability Medicaid coverage in January and had to use emergency room care for her terminal illnesses. Donna Risso, who died April 1, lost her disability Medicaid coverage in January and had to use emergency room care for her terminal illnesses. (Photo by Megan McLemore )

Two years ago, Donna Risso and her friend Michael were living under a bridge in New Orleans. They were struggling not only with homelessness, but also with Donna's mounting health problems, which included hepatitis C, cirrhosis of the liver, encephalitis, pancreatitis and chronic anemia. Donna was a "frequent flyer" at the emergency room, often five to 10 times a month, but her health was getting steadily worse.

Social workers using federal and state resources helped Donna find housing and got her on a state program called "disability Medicaid," which covers health care costs for people who meet federal disability criteria but are not yet on the federal program. This important initiative, common in many states, is a bridge to health services for people applying for federal benefits, which can take years.

Although the program was a lifesaver for Donna, Gov. Bobby Jindal terminated "disability Medicaid" in Louisiana as of Jan. 1, leaving 9,200 people across the state with no coverage.

It's well known that Gov. Jindal steadfastly opposes expanding Medicaid in the state under the Affordable Care Act, and that the Legislature voted against expansion in 2013. This is misguided, as Medicaid expansion would cover as many as 300,000 uninsured residents, with 100 percent of the costs picked up by the federal government through 2016 and at least 90 percent thereafter.

But less widely known is that Medicaid in Louisiana is actually shrinking, through termination of programs and tighter eligibility requirements. In the state's view, since the Affordable Care Act's private insurance marketplace will cover people earning more than the federal poverty level, many people on Medicaid should pick up insurance on marketplace exchanges.

But it's not that simple. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, most Louisianans who need health insurance have incomes below the federal poverty level, which is $11,490 a year for an individual. These folks, an estimated 242,000 people, fall into an enormous coverage gap in states that are not expanding Medicaid and taking people off Medicaid only adds to this group.

On Louisiana's Medicaid Purchase Plan, for example, people with disabilities who were working could receive Medicaid benefits if they earned no more than $25,000 per year. Now the program is available only to those who make less than $11,490, making half of the program's 2,300 participants no longer eligible.

But the marketplace under the Affordable Care Act was not designed for the poor, the sick or those with disabilities, since fees and deductibles on the private marketplace plans still place health insurance out of reach for many low-income people. Medicaid also covers the personal assistance, transportation, home care and other services needed by many people with disabilities, while most private plans don't. And if an enrollment deadline is missed, that leaves people with no health insurance for a year -- which is not a viable option for folks who live with chronic medical or mental health challenges.

Louisiana is also cutting benefits for pregnant women. Thinking that pregnant women cut from the program could join the exchanges, the state drastically reduced eligibility for the "LA moms" program, which seeks to address the state's alarming infant mortality rate, the second-highest in the nation. Pregnant women who miss the enrollment deadlines can fall back on the state Medicaid program for children, but they will miss out on post-partum care and other vital support.

For many of the state's most vulnerable residents, the failure to expand Medicaid has left a dangerous gap between a shrinking Medicaid program and the coverage provided by private insurance exchanges. Living in this gap is not a policy abstraction. Donna was dying. She was dying at home without the means to pay for all of her prescriptions. She was homebound without a wheelchair. With no home attendant, she could not bathe herself. She had no bedside commode. When Michael went out, she was left completely helpless.

A hospice service agreed to help Donna until she received federal disability benefits, but her social worker said, "We had to beg them to take this risk, and not everyone will be so lucky."

Without the Disability Medicaid Program, Donna's visits to the emergency room cost $1,000, which as the state Department of Health and Hospitals notes, is "much more than a visit to a primary care provider for the same symptoms."

When it comes to health care decisions, Louisiana is moving in the wrong direction -- leaving more people without health coverage and ultimately costing the state more in dollars and lives. This can be fixed. The Legislature is in session, and members are considering bills that offer several options for ways to expand Medicaid.

On April 1, Donna died. It's too late for her, but perhaps not for others. It's time to move Louisiana forward toward a healthy and financially sound future.

Megan McLemore is a senior health researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Link to original article from NOLA.com

Read 1417 times

End Corporate Rule

  • Activists Deliver Amendment Petitions to 21 Senate Offices
    Activists Deliver Amendment Petitions to 21 Senate Offices

    Congress may be on recess, but activists across the country are not taking a break from the nationwide push to get big money out of politics. Today activists teamed up for a massive petition drop, delivering petitions in support of a constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United to 21 Senate offices in 15 states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington).

    Written on Friday, 22 August 2014 15:41 Read more...
  • On the Hill with Heroes and Tap Dancers
    On the Hill with Heroes and Tap Dancers I think the bad guys are sacred of the heroes and the tap dancers are managing a shuffle ball change just enough to keep in step with re-election. Thursday July 24, 2014, twenty-three heroes, Americans voting with their time to reverse the Supreme Court erosion of our equality of citizenship, congregated in the Russell Senate building waiting for Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va).
    Written on Friday, 08 August 2014 13:57 Read more...
  • Elizabeth Warren Quietly Racked Up A Nice Win
    Elizabeth Warren Quietly Racked Up A Nice Win Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) got her way on Tuesday when the Federal Reserve rejected the living will plans for most Wall Street banks.
    Written on Wednesday, 06 August 2014 22:15 Read more...
  • The Koch Brothers' Reign of Terror: How Their Great Wealth Is Buying Our Government
    The Koch Brothers' Reign of Terror: How Their Great Wealth Is Buying Our Government

    It seems like every e-mail I receive these days from a Democratic Senate candidate or Senator up for re-election this cycle includes a warning that the infamous Koch brothers will do anything, no matter the cost, to take over the US Senate - and with it, our country.

    Written on Tuesday, 05 August 2014 15:20 Read more...
  • The Ultimate Goal of the NSA is Total Population Control
    The Ultimate Goal of the NSA is Total Population Control At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US, says whistleblower William Binney – that's a 'totalitarian mentality'
    Written on Sunday, 03 August 2014 22:52 Read more...
  • Democrats Introduce Bill that Could Lead to Impeachment for Justices Thomas and Scalia
    Democrats Introduce Bill that Could Lead to Impeachment for Justices Thomas and Scalia

    On Thursday, a group of Democratic lawmakers proposed a law to establish a Code of Conduct  for the Supreme Court.

    It’s surely to have Supreme Court Justices Thomas and Scalia quaking in their Tea Party boots because it would mean they would actually have to be independent of political and other influences. They would also have to have the appearance of independence.  They would have to stay away from political activity. That part would be really hard.

    Written on Sunday, 06 July 2014 14:47 Read more...
  • California makes an official call for a U.S. Constitutional Convention to overturn Citizens United
    California makes an official call for a U.S. Constitutional Convention to overturn Citizens United

    On June 23rd the State Senate passed AJR 1, making California the second state in the union to officially call for an Article V constitutional convention for the sole purpose of passing a United States constitutional amendment that would effectively overturn Citizens United v. FEC and limit the corrupting influence of money in our electoral process.

    Written on Thursday, 26 June 2014 13:29 Read more...
  • New Organization Hangs Sign: 'Whistleblowers Welcome'
    New Organization Hangs Sign: 'Whistleblowers Welcome'

    A new organization called ExposeFacts—backed by well-known source of The Pentagon Papers Daniel Ellsberg—is debuting itself in Washington, DC on Wednesday as a new place where government and corporate employees aware of wrongdoing can more safely and securely report their concerns.

    Written on Sunday, 08 June 2014 13:54 Read more...
  • 'Astroturf' Groups Leading Drive to Kill Open Internet
    'Astroturf' Groups Leading Drive to Kill Open Internet

    The telecommunications industry is creating and funding front groups which pose as consumer organizations and aggressively lobby to kill net neutrality, journalist Lee Fang revealed in an article published in Vice on Friday.

    Written on Sunday, 08 June 2014 13:39 Read more...
  • John Oliver Calls on Angry Internet Trolls to Save Net Neutrality (video)
    John Oliver Calls on Angry Internet Trolls to Save Net Neutrality (video)

    It’s a sad state of affairs when a country that touts freedom of the press depends upon cable TV comedy shows to hear the real news.

    Written on Friday, 06 June 2014 04:19 Read more...
  • Oligarchy Enshrined
    Oligarchy Enshrined

    Why the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon ruling is good news for the super-rich and bad news for progressive Democrats.

    At the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference, a conservative election lawyer and a baby-faced electrical engineer from Alabama with a made-for-TV Southern drawl began plotting how to unravel federal campaign finance regulations.

    Written on Tuesday, 20 May 2014 01:21 Read more...
  • Lincoln Didn't Fight the Civil War to Free the Corporations - Video
    Lincoln Didn't Fight the Civil War to Free the Corporations - Video

    This is an idea worth spreading - so - please watch & share with 5 or 10 friends. It’s important to get money out of politics and the average person back in. Also - leave a message on the YouTube and let TED know - this is one of the most important issues of the day."

    Written on Thursday, 15 May 2014 17:16 Read more...
  • Out of the Shadows: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce
    Out of the Shadows: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is, as they boast on its website, the world's largest business organization, as well as the nation's largest corporate lobbying group. It is also a recipient of some of the largest amounts of so-called "dark" money in the country, refusing to disclose to the public its donors or even the amounts it receives. 

    Written on Tuesday, 29 April 2014 15:56 Read more...
  • Bernie Sanders Raises Battle Cry Against Citizens United: "I Vote for Democracy!"
    Bernie Sanders Raises Battle Cry Against Citizens United: "I Vote for Democracy!"

    Citizens United is not just the default reference for US Supreme Court decisions—including the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling—that have ushered in a new era of corporate dominance of American elections. It’s the name of the conservative group that encouraged Chief Justice John Roberts and the most activist Court majority in American history to tear the heart out of what were already weak campaign finance laws.

    Written on Sunday, 13 April 2014 04:24 Read more...
  • Local protests held in response to Supreme Court donation ruling
    Local protests held in response to Supreme Court donation ruling

    PITTSFIELD -- Their signs read "Get Big Money Out of Politics," "Democracy Is Not For Sale" and "This Is What Plutocracy Looks Like." About a dozen of them stood in Park Square on Wednesday evening, one of 130 "rapid response events" coordinated nationwide to protest that morning's Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. FEC.    

    Written on Friday, 04 April 2014 14:38 Read more...
  • With McCutcheon Ruling, An Activist Court Opts for Full-On Plutocracy
    With McCutcheon Ruling, An Activist Court Opts for Full-On Plutocracy

    Any doubts about the determination of an activist United States Supreme Court to rewrite election rules so that the dollar matters more than the vote were removed Wednesday, when McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission was decided in favor of the dollar.

    Written on Wednesday, 02 April 2014 22:24 Read more...
  • TPM Interview: The Brown Grad Student Who Chased The NRA Out Of Rhode Island
    TPM Interview: The Brown Grad Student Who Chased The NRA Out Of Rhode Island

    Sam Bell is in the third year of a PhD program in geology at Brown University. Geology as in rocks. But Bell also moonlights as the the state coordinator of The Rhode Island Progressive Democrats, the state affiliate of the 10-year-old Progressive Democrats of America. And in his work with The Rhode Island Progressive Democrats, Bell was instrumental to the investigation that ultimately led to the National Rifle Association paying the second largest campaign finance fine in the state's history.

    Written on Thursday, 27 February 2014 22:13 Read more...
  • Thank a Postal Worker This Holiday Season
    Thank a Postal Worker This Holiday Season

    Postal workers are giving it their all this holiday season, as cards and packages and returns must be collected and delivered amidst ice storms, snowstorms and wild temperature drops.

    They deserve our thanks in 2013.

    And our support in 2014.

    Written on Thursday, 26 December 2013 23:49 Read more...
  • Fast Food Giants Gorge on Subsidies
    Fast Food Giants Gorge on Subsidies

    Thanks to a loophole that subsidizes CEO pay, McDonald's, Yum Brands, Wendy's, Burger King, Domino's, and Dunkin' Brands trimmed $64 million from their tax bills in 2011 and 2012.

    The fast food industry is notorious for handing out lean paychecks to their burger flippers and fat ones to their CEOs. What’s less well-known is that taxpayers are actually subsidizing fast food incomes at both the bottom — and top — of the industry.

    Written on Monday, 02 December 2013 23:07 Read more...
  • This Thanksgiving, Let's Celebrate AgriCULTURE, Not AgriBUSINESS
    This Thanksgiving, Let's Celebrate AgriCULTURE, Not AgriBUSINESS

    In December 1972, I was part of a nationwide campaign that came tantalizingly close to getting the U.S. Senate to reject Earl Butz, Richard Nixon's choice for secretary of agriculture. A coalition of grass-roots farmers, consumers and scrappy public interest organizations (like the Agribusiness Accountability Project that Susan DeMarco and I then headed) teamed up with some gutsy, unabashedly progressive senators to undertake the almost impossible challenge of defeating the cabinet nominee of a president who'd just been elected in a landslide.

    Written on Friday, 29 November 2013 00:06 Read more...
  • Arizona Democratic Party Shows Its Progressive Side at State Committee Meeting
    Arizona Democratic Party Shows Its Progressive Side at State Committee Meeting

    Progressive voices were heard loud and clear at Saturday’s Arizona Democratic Party (ADP) State Committee Meeting in Maricopa, Arizona.

    Unlike some past ADP meetings where progressives were ignored or where progressive resolutions were tabled and not heard by the full ADP membership, the Maricopa meeting was dominated by progressives.

    Written on Monday, 18 November 2013 20:09 Read more...
  • Can Public Banking Spur Economic Growth in Southern Arizona?
    Can Public Banking Spur Economic Growth in Southern Arizona?

    Tucson is one of the most impoverished cities in the country—for many reasons. The Arizona Legislature—driven by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and short-sighted, “small government” ideology—has routinely swept funds earmarked for counties and cities to “balance” the state’s budget or fund pet projects like lower corporate taxes. Beyond the Legislature’s negative impact on Baja Arizona, the Tucson economy is not diversified enough. Manufacturing is nearly non-existent in Southern Arizona. There is an over-reliance on defense spending, University of Arizona spin-offs, tourism, low-wage service jobs, and growth/development. 

    Written on Friday, 15 November 2013 15:56 Read more...

Sign the TPP Fast Track Petitions

MoveOn.org Petition - Congress Don't Renew Fast Track

Public Citizen Petition - Congress Must Reject Fast Track Authority

MoveOn.org Petition - Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership

CREDO Petition - Stop the Massive Corporate Power Grab

 

Find Your Elected Officials for Issues

Enter your zip+4 and find your elected officials. This link provides name, address and phone number

ButtonFindElectedOfficials

 

Progressive Central Panel on Ending Corporate Rule

Ask Bill Moyers How to Overturn Citizens United