Louisiana’s working poor and uninsured have recently benefitted significantly from two long overdue breakthroughs in state health care policy. The first was to replace the state’s obsolete fee-for-service Medicaid program with competitive managed care models. The second major accomplishment was the replacement of our antiquated state “charity hospital” system in 2013 with a public-private hospital partnership model customized by region. These changes have improved access to care and produced greater value for the taxpayer’s dollar.
Unfortunately, Louisiana has not yet reinforced its funding model for the uninsured (commonly known as Disproportionate Share Hospital Payments) with a more sustainable coverage model that would bring an estimated $7 billion in federal funding over the next five years. This failure encourages hundreds of thousands of uninsured citizens (mostly our working poor) to wander in and out of Louisiana’s emergency rooms without any responsibility for, or opportunity to participate in, the efficient and effective management of their own health and health care. Additionally, the projected decline in the Disproportionate Share Hospital Payment model damages the financial stability of our community hospitals and threatens a real financial collapse of our new public-private hospital partnerships.