I’m writing in response to last week’s letter from Alexandria nursing home owner Lansing Kolb.

In the letter, Mr. Kolb discusses the new proposed health care delivery model for aging Louisianians, known as Bayou Choices. Bayou Choices is a managed long-term support and service program that uses a team approach to care, and replaces the current, antiquated, fee-for-service Medicaid system, which has drained our health care budget and forced many Louisianians into institutional care.

Ninety percent of Louisiana residents say they want to remain in their own homes and communities as they get older. We feel all Louisianians should have the choice to receive the services they need at home, rather than a costly institution, and Bayou Choices can provide the pathway.

Bayou Choices will encourage supervised and coordinated care to ensure that older Louisianians get the care they need, in the setting they prefer, which is often their homes. This could provide very real cost savings to the state, as well as more and better care choices for consumers.

Mr. Kolb claims this new model will never produce any real savings to the state or provide quality care. Unfortunately, he has the facts completely backward.

Analysis from the state’s health department reports that savings to the state could reach as much as $10 million in year one and more than $68 million by year three. When health care dollars are scarce, these savings could alleviate substantial pressure on our state budget.

Despite the potential of considerable state savings and real promise of improved care options, Gov. Bobby Jindal has still refused to implement this health care model.

We hope Louisiana’s next governor will move forward to implement this program that can make a real improvement in the quality of life for many of our state’s most vulnerable residents. Bayou Choices can help our state make progress toward helping individuals receive the most appropriate level of care at the right time and location, while reducing unnecessary hospitalization and emergency room utilization.

Failure to move forward will mean that current waiting lists for people who want to receive the support services they need to live at home and be productive will continue to grow longer and services will become more threatened.

Hopefully, Louisianians will unite and urge our next governor to move forward on Bayou Choices, providing consumers with the options they want and deserve. Louisianians are worth it.

Andrew Muhl

advocacy director, AARP of Louisiana

Baton Rouge