Louisiana health officials express concern over ailing budget

Louisiana health officials express concern over ailing budget
(Source: Raycom Media)

LOUISIANA (KPLC) - (AP) Louisiana's health officials have ramped up their warnings to lawmakers about budget cuts, saying proposed reductions could devastate services at safety-net hospitals, cripple medical education programs and create damaging ripple effects for years.
           
Lawmakers are debating how to close an estimated $700 million gap in the budget year that begins July 1. Health care services are the biggest target for cuts, because those programs account for nearly half of Louisiana's annual operating budget.
           
Over two days of House and Senate budget hearings, managers of the charity hospital system that cares for the poor cautioned of clinic shutdowns and widespread service eliminations if plans to dramatically scale back their financing take hold. Medical school leaders said shuttering of clinics, inpatient beds and services would give them fewer places to train students and fewer dollars to run their programs.

Louisiana's budget shortfall is caused by the expiration of temporary taxes. A special session called by Gov. John Bel Edwards earlier this year failed to raise any money to close the gap.