Senate Health & Welfare Committee urges governor to veto La. budget
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The large cut to the Louisiana Department of Health took many in the healthcare arena by surprise, some even saying they thought it was a joke when they heard about it.
They were able to make their case on Tuesday, June 20, as to why this is a bad idea. Lawmakers heard directly from LDH about what the cuts to the funds would mean for each of us.
“This is not the way any of us want to serve the people of our state,” said Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton.
LDH Secretary Stephen Russo said he didn’t learn of the cuts until 30 minutes before the session was over. He added that while $100 million sounds like a drop in the bucket compared to the department’s budget, it’s actually a much larger cut than people think, mostly because those funds are typically matched by federal dollars.
“You’re looking overall at a $400 to $700 million total impact depending on where the reductions come from,” explained Secretary Russo.
Russo said LDH was given strict guidelines as to what his agency was and was not allowed to cut. Prescription drugs are just one of the long list of things that would see reductions. Members were frustrated, saying other legislators keep asking LDH to do more each year with less money.
“Veterans who have served our country who are walking the streets today, and we say $100 million ain’t no big deal, we haven’t done a damn thing for them yet,” said Sen. Gerald Boudreaux, D-Lafayette.
After a nearly three-hour discussion, the committee as a whole agreed to send the governor a formal letter urging him to veto the budget. He can also veto line-item portions of the bill in order to avoid a potential special session.
The governor is still overseas for an economic development trip to France but the committee plans to have this letter on his desk by the time he returns.
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