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Medicaid cuts set for February 1st

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MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - Healthcare providers and patients have been hit with state budget cuts in recent years, and another round of eliminations in set for February 1st.

In December, Governor Bobby Jindal announced several cuts to the Medicaid program, including the elimination of at home hospice care for terminally ill patients.

"We really didn't understand this, we feel like hospice is a cost saving system for medicaid," says Debbie Rainwater of First Choice Hospice in Monroe, "we prevent a lot of hospitalizations, we are able to keep our patients at home."

Rainwater says without the help of hospice at home, Medicaid patients could actually cost the state more.

"Now, these patients are going to have to call 911, and end up in the hospital, and Medicaid is going to have to pay for those hospital stays," says Rainwater.

Rainwater says current Medicaid patients won't be affected, but hospice will not be an option for new patients starting at the end of the month.

"These patients, typically, are younger," Rainwater says, "a lot of them in their 40's, 20's, even children are going to be affected by this."

This could be devastating to families. The chaplain at First Choice says for patients it's hitting them while their down.

"Cuts them down because where they though they had something," Danny Hawthorne says, "it's no longer there, or it's not going to be there."

Rainwater hopes families and individuals facing a terminal illness will enroll in the program sooner than later and keep a close eye on enrollment deadlines.

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