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Louisiana Long-Term Care Plan Could "Blast" State Into 21st Century
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 20, 2004

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA--A plan to revamp Louisiana's long-term care services centers around moving from institutions and toward more community-based supports.

Department of Health and Hospitals Deputy Secretary Raymond Jetson presented the 22-page plan to Governor Kathleen Blanco's Health Care Reform Panel on Thursday. The proposal reportedly includes increasing money to community and in-home services for seniors and people with disabilities, along with speeding up the down-sizing of institutions that house people with developmental disabilities, here called "developmental centers".

Nursing home owners immediately criticized the plan as "punitive" because a proposed change in the state's funding formula could make it difficult for such facilities.

According to the Times-Picayune, Louisiana currently has more nursing home beds per capita than any other state. It also has one of the lowest nursing home occupancy rates. This is blamed on the funding formula in which the state charges nursing homes based on the number of patients they have. This effectively encourages the nursing home industry to get more people into such facilities. Other states charge nursing homes based on the number of total beds, whether or not they are filled, the paper explained.

State Senator Joe McPherson, a nursing home owner and head of the Senate health committee, said: "If you reduce direct-care costs, that won't be in the best interest of the patients left in those institutions."

Others said the changes signal a move in the right direction for Louisiana.

"You would be blasting your way into the 21st century," said panel member Carol O'Shaugnessy, a specialist in aging and disability at the Congressional Research Service in Washington, D.C.

"Panel offers plan to shift long-term care emphasis" (The Advocate)


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