Politics
2:36 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

Lawmakers Question If DHH's New Budget Saves

Officials from the Department of Health and Hospitals were grilled Tuesday morning by the Appropriations Committee on how they plan to save money in the next fiscal year.

Among other cost-saving measures, the department’s $8.9 billion proposed budget calls for turning over a number of existing Medicaid services to private entities, and investing more in the Bayou Health reforms. Savings also hinge on the privatization of the LSU charity hospitals, although no official agreements have been made yet.

Many lawmakers were skeptical about whether the cuts were falling in the right places. Rep. Patricia Smith said too many people already cannot access services.

"I feel, in my opinion, that there’s an attitude of ‘I don’t care’ around healthcare for health people in this state of Louisiana. It’s an ‘I don’t care’ attitude. If somebody dies, I don’t care, if somebody doesn’t get funded, I don’t care," Smith said.

DHH Undersecretary Jerry Phillips said the goal is to preserve services, regardless of whether they are publicly or privately provided.

When Rep. James Armes asked if expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act could help the DHH budget, Phillips said they didn’t know.

After a short lunch recess, discussion of DHH's budget continued into the afternoon.

**WRKF Intern Jarondakie Patrick contributed to this report.