Levine Says Budget Will Revamp Mental Health Delivery
Levine Says Budget Will Revamp Mental Health Delivery | Louisiana health care, Louisiana department of health and hospitals, Louisiana medical news

The state budget for Fiscal Year 2010-2011 will fundamentally alter the way the state provides mental health services, according to Department of Health & Hospitals Secretary Alan Levine. The budget, which will be presented to the Legislature on Friday, will also provide funding for the LSU Health Science System's hospitals for one year while a transitional plan is developed to plot the future of that system.

The Times-Picayune story is here. The Advocate story is here.

According to The Advocate, Levine says the state will merge state developmental centers and shift spending to community services.

The Times-Picayune reports that the budget will propose closing 100 in-patient mental health beds now operated by the state as part of the shift towards community services.
Levine said the LSU hospitals will also be cut, but enough funding will be included to keep all facilities in that network open for a year while a plan to deal with that system in the face of declining revenues and increased need will be developed.

According to the Times-Picayune, "The proposals come in a year when Louisiana stands to lose up to $650 million in federal support for health care, most of which is because of a reduction in federal Medicaid payments. While the Jindal administration is proposing a variety of one-time patches to fill the hole, it also will mean cuts to the Medicaid rates paid to hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers that treat the poor, Levine said."

There may be some relief in the offing as Louisiana officials wait to see if Congress agrees to extend the economic stimulus law by another six months, through June 2011. If that happens, the administration's biggest budget headache -- the loss of Medicaid dollars because of a declining federal match rate -- will be pushed off for another year.

If Congress fails to act, private providers of Medicaid services, such as hospitals and pharmacies, are likely to see cuts. But Levine said he expects Congress to act this spring, providing Louisiana with a temporary bailout.

Levine said the budget will propose using leftover federal block-grant dollars -- $58 million over two years -- to fill the gap left by a post-Katrina grant that has helped finance a series of outpatient clinics in New Orleans. A three-year federal grant to provide those services through local primary care clinics is set to expire in the next fiscal year. This funding would allow service delivery through those centers to continue.

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