Many concerned over potential cuts to Department of Health and Hospitals

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Healthcare cuts were the big topic at the Capitol on Monday. Dozens came to the Senate Finance Committee meeting to voice their concerns over the House-approved state budget. That plan would severely cut the budget for the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH), and funds TOPS at 80 percent.

"This is important to us as a legislature," said Senator Sharon Dewitt. "And I... it's just a difficult process. The journey is ugly."

The DHH cuts would result in closure of the majority of nursing homes throughout the state, according to the director of the programs.

Mark Bergen told lawmakers their residents would lose benefits and have about a month to find a new location with an appeals process. Bergen says most of their residents don't have another option, and the costs of care would force those homes to close.

"Thousands upon thousands of residents and their family members will go through unimaginable grief and stress as they try to determine how to receive or to provide the much needed healthcare needs," Bergen said.

People with disabilities and who receive in-home care would also be impacted.

The budget was approved by the House in April by a vote of 55 to 47. Governor John Bel Edwards and State Commissioner Jay Dardene have voiced their displeasure with the bill.

It's still under review in the Senate Finance Committee. If it passes, it will go to the Senate floor for debate. Edwards and many lawmakers have proposed going into a special session as soon as possible to address the budget concerns.

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