Louisiana hospice workers fight medicaid cuts - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Louisiana hospice workers fight medicaid cuts

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SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER CITY, LA (KSLA) -

Starting February 1st Medicaid will no longer cover hospice care in Louisiana.

When doctors diagnosed Odie Harris with cancer his family and friends did everything they could to support him, love him, and help make his dreams come true. In January 2011 he became an honorary Young Marine during an assembly at his school. Everyone at the assembly hoped he would get well enough to attend the training later.

However, he didn't get better. He got worse, and a few months later his family had to turn to hospice care.

"It's a scary thing. Nobody wants to deal with hospice. Nobody wants to be at that place," said Odie's mother, Lori Harris.

Over the next 2 months Harris was thankful for the care they gave her son to make the last weeks of his life more comfortable.

Medicaid paid for the care, but starting next month it won't cover hospice any more in Louisiana. It's part of the state's budget cuts. The changes do not effect Medicare.

Hospice care givers actually think it will end up costing more.

"These individuals have to go somewhere. The cost of a hospital stay will dramatically increase versus having hospice care at home," said Sarita Park at Jordan's Crossing Hospice Care.

Harris says she doesn't care about the cost. For her it's about the patient.

"It's usually not long term. The expense is not huge, but the quality they have in those last days, there's no price.  It's priceless," she said.

Hospice care supporters plan to rally at the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge next Wednesday, January 23rd.

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