BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - As the severity of the state's financial crisis came into focus, state departments revealed just how deeply they may have to cut to help ends meet.
In the Department of Health and Hospitals, potential cuts included various health care waivers and programs that provide families with much needed help to care for developmentally and medically disabled loved ones. Many families say the cuts would be a death sentence.
"I was in shock and devastated and thought it came straight from the pits of hell," said concerned parent Angéla Lorio.
Lorio was one of many parents who gathered on the steps of the Capitol ahead of the start of a special session where lawmakers will tackle the budget issues. Her three year old son, John Paul, has a tracheostomy tube that helps him breathe.
Such complicated medical issues often mean kids like John Paul are at high risk for illness, and spend a lot of time in hospitals. State waivers help families afford the help they need to keep their loved ones healthy and to care for them at home.
Many families say the cuts would be deadly.
"It's the most devastating and life threatening cuts I've ever seen. It would eliminate support for 20,000 people that I know of, people that rely on those supports to stay alive," said former DHH worker and advocate Bruce Blaney.
Other parents at the rally said they would be forced to give up jobs, homes or even move out of state if they lost the support of waivers.
The group plans to advocate to lawmakers throughout the special session.