“We did not think we could get all the (federal) approvals and get the contract in place prior to a new administration,” Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert said Wednesday. “We did not think that was the right thing to do.”
The administration already has contracted with private managers to handle the medical and behavioral health components of the state’s $8 billion Medicaid program.
The long-term care portion would have been the third and final installment of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s privatization of the government insurance program for the poor.
Under privatized “managed care,” the idea is to provide needed services to people at the right time and in the most appropriate and generally less expensive setting.
The state’s powerful nursing home industry sought to exempt itself. Advocates for the elderly and disabled wanted them included, hoping that dollars would be shifted to more home- and community-based services where there are long waiting lists.
The industry’s objections had stalled release of a request for proposal that would seek a private company to manage care for some 72,000 people who are getting their care in either institutional or home-based settings.
“We wanted to get the stakeholders on board, including the nursing homes. We still had work to do,” Kliebert said.
She said her agency is also devoting a lot of resources on a revamp of the behavioral health privatization, which is also reducing time to devote to the long-term care services component.
Advocates for the elderly immediately criticized Jindal’s decision, calling it “simply unacceptable.”
“We were deeply disappointed today to learn of the ... decision to delay implementation of managed, coordinated long term care, known as Bayou Choices.
The reform of Managed Long Term Care has great potential to expand service choices for older adults and their families, to allow more individuals to remain at home and out of costly nursing homes, and achieve real cost savings for the state,” Denise Bottcher, interim state director of Louisiana AARP, said in a statement.
Bottcher said the administration’s decision to delay the privatization “could have dire consequences for our state’s older adult population and family caregivers, both of whom desperately need support.”
“We are hopeful that Louisiana’s next governor makes the needs of older adults a top priority by enacting real solutions to ensure people have options other than remaining on a waiting list for services and assistance,” Bottcher said.
Bottcher pointed to a recent AARP statewide survey that showed 90 percent of Louisiana voters age 45 and older say home- and community-based services are important to stay in their own home as they age.