The Louisiana Nursing Home Association is entitled to its own opinions about Constitutional Amendment 1, which it helped push through the Legislature. But it’s not entitled to its own facts.

In his recent letter, Joe Donchess claimed that the amendment would lead to “budgetary fairness” because it would require future cuts to be “allocated evenhandedly.”

The reality is that this amendment is a special deal for the nursing home industry. It treats other health care providers anything but “evenhandedly.” Constitutional Amendment 2 would give hospitals a similar special deal.

The amendments would make it practically impossible to cut rates for nursing homes and hospitals in the event of a shortfall. Legislators would have to approve any cuts for them by a two-thirds vote. Passing the state budget only requires a majority vote.

But other providers would receive no protection whatsoever. In fact, they would be more at risk for cuts than they are today. Doctors, hospice and in-home and community-based care for seniors and people with disabilities, not to mention state colleges and other critical services, will be that much more vulnerable to devastating cuts. That’s not what most Louisianans would describe as “fairness.”

Mr. Donchess also claims the amendments “could free up additional state dollars.” In fact, the opposite is true. The amendments would lock up billions of dollars — as well as related taxes and fees — in the state constitution. These are spending decisions that should be made annually by the Legislature, not mandated in the constitution.

No one disputes that nursing homes provide important services for which they deserve fair reimbursement. But for the past six years, this politically powerful industry has seen its rates increase year after year while other service providers have been cut.

Survey after survey shows our seniors prefer to receive care in their own homes and communities. Constitutional Amendment 1 threatens to take away that choice. That’s not opinion. That is fact.

Jan Moller

director, Louisiana Budget Project

Baton Rouge