Gov. Bobby Jindal and his handlers have had little to say about Congress gutting $859 million in funding for Louisiana’s Medicaid program, but when state lawmakers threatened a month ago to strip money from the state’s own health department, the voice from Jindal’s administration was loud and clear: Cutting the health department’s budget would cripple health care services for the state’s poor and uninsured.

Congress last week unexpectedly stripped the hundreds of millions in Medicaid funding for Louisiana when it passed a federal highway bill, leaving Jindal and his Health Secretary Bruce Greenstein to make deep cuts in health services that have yet to be revealed. Greenstein now tells The Associated Press that the sudden cuts are “doable.” Say what? A month ago, when Greenstein faced lawmakers amid a budget battle, the mere mention of budget cuts to the health department (far less than what Congress has taken back) prompted Greenstein to warn lawmakers that everyone’s “quality of life” would be impacted, according to The Times-Picayune:
The Medicaid money targeted by Congress for cuts was given to Louisiana through the Democrats’ federal health law that Jindal, considered a possible vice presidential contender, said must be repealed.

Pearson Cross, a political scientist at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, suggested the administration’s rhetorical shift was tied to Jindal’s national political aspirations and his very public stance against the Medicaid expansion offered through President Barack Obama’s health law.

“The current position rises out of a need to be politically pure,” Cross said. “He’s decided to take this stand against Obamacare and the expansion of Medicaid, so regrettably it seems as if this Medicaid cut is kind of playing into that and getting swept along.”

The Department of Health and Hospitals are working on a plan to shrink spending in the program that pays for health services for the poor, uninsured, disabled and elderly. The cuts will strip 11 percent from the $7.7 billion Medicaid budget that had been planned for the fiscal year.

On the chopping block are charity hospitals, rural hospitals, hospice care, a breast and cervical cancer program and the rates paid to nursing homes, doctors and other health providers who take care of Medicaid patients.
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