Medicaid cuts felt by all healthcare providers

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Woman's Hospital prides itself on the Newborn and Infant Intensive Care Unit, or NICU. However, constant cuts in Medicaid reimbursement mean that Woman's must now cut down on its NICU home care services which include home infusion pharmacy, home medical equipment and home health.

"Babies that are coming out of the NICU largely went to some of those services, and that's how they were impacted because in the Baton Rouge area, woman's home care was the largest provider of that service," said Vice President of Infant and Pediatrics Services Staci Sullivan.

Hospital reps say those babies and their mothers will still receive the care they need, but now it will be through their primary pedestrian or other home care service, a hard adjustment for woman's workers.

"As a former NICU nurse that is one of the things that we work really hard to make sure we can take care of our babies while they're here.  So, we want to make sure we can take care of them when they are at home as well," said Sullivan.

The changes at Woman's are just one example of how Medicaid reductions are impacting hospitals across the state.

"Hospitals have to decide which of some of those services they can continue to keep and which ones they have to eliminate. No hospital can provide every service for every patient," said President of the Louisiana Hospital Association John Matessino.

"We're in the midst of probably the greatest disruption in the healthcare economy since the '60s," said Secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals Bruce Greenstein.

In December, the DHH announced more reductions to services that are easily found elsewhere.  While the Secretary says it is a difficult transition for patients and healthcare providers alike, Greenstein believes it will strengthen Louisiana healthcare in the long run.

"The only way we keep costs down is by keeping people healthy. So, that's going to be a change. It changes the business model. It may mean we have fewer hospital visits, fewer doctors visits, fewer emergency department visits, but that's what we need and we're only going to get there if people are healthy and the only way to do that is if we change the way healthcare is organized," he said.  

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