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State Sen. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge, who chairs the Senate Insurance Committee.

After members of one Senate committee spiked his proposal to study how Louisiana could better support seniors and disabled who want to live at home rather than go to a nursing home, state Sen. Kirk Talbot rewrote his resolution and had it referred to the committee he chairs.

This time the resolution moved out of committee without objection.

Senate Resolution 95 asks the state Department of Insurance to put together a task force “to study best practices for the coverage of long-term supports and services and to increase public knowledge and awareness of the prevalence of need for long-term supports and services.”

Shifting to the Insurance Department from the Louisiana Department of Health allowed Talbot, a River Ridge Republican, to shuffle his resolution to his Senate Insurance Committee, rather than having it heard by the Senate Health & Welfare Committee, which on May 5 voted 7-1 to reject his previous resolution.

Home- and community-based services would help family members by providing home visits from nurses and physical therapists; access to medical equipment; support for hygiene, clothing, eating; guidance on how to turn the bedridden; and other personal needs, such as transportation. Families annually spend about $7,000 of their own money to help their loved ones at home, according to AARP.

The state would pay insurance companies to cover the expenses, which is why the services are also called “managed care.”

Talbot also dropped the requirement in his resolution that the Health Department estimate what the rates would look like if the state shifted to hiring insurance companies to provide supplementary help for families who choose to care for their loved ones at home.

Coming up with realistic rates that could be used in the bidding process would require the Health Department to detail what the program would be like, what services would be offered and how those services would be delivered, along with identifying which populations would be served. Only then, argued Tara LeBlanc, the state’s interim Medicaid executive director, could actuaries by contracted to forecast the costs to state taxpayers. Such a study, she said, would require at least $2.5 million and take at least 18 months to complete.

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Though he didn’t think a study would cost that much, Talbot said he withdrew the rate calculation aspect from his resolution. Still, a survey of how other states handle managed care and how much it costs in other states would be beneficial, he said. He noted that seven years have passed since the state last studied whether to adopt a home- and community-based services program. During the intervening years the number states with such programs have gone up from 13 to 28.

If staying at home is as bad as the Louisiana Nursing Home Association makes out, then why have so many states adopted the program, Talbot asked, adding that having more states to look at would give Louisiana researchers more information to consider.

“It has been seven years since we looked at it, it needs a new look,” Talbot said. “This is an important issue. A lot of people in my district want this.”

The Louisiana Nursing Home Association opposed SR95 as they did Talbot’s previous resolution, Senate Resolution 23.

Mark Berger, the association’s executive director, said several states that adopted “managed care” are now trying to get out of the programs because the costs were higher than expected and not enough services were provided. Besides, the topic has been studied repeatedly in the past.

“How many times do you study a bad idea,” Berger said.

“We study all kinds of crazy things and this isn’t crazy,” said Sen. Stewart Cathey, R-Monroe.

The resolution now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

Email Mark Ballard at mballard@theadvocate.com.