State Sen. Kirk Talbot was a little surprised when nobody objected, allowing his resolution to study home- and community-based services for the elderly to pass the Louisiana Senate Thursday night.
But he remained wary as a phalanx of lobbyists for the nursing home industry scrambled along galleries next to the chamber’s floor.
Sure enough, about 10 minutes later, Sen. Jay Luneau was up and asking for the Senate to reconsider the vote on Talbot’s Senate Resolution 95.
Luneau, D-Alexandria, said he was distracted and would have objected at the time. He is on the Senate Health & Welfare Committee that on May 5 shot down a version of Talbot’s study resolution on a 7-1 vote.
Talbot, a River Ridge Republican, redrafted the resolution in a way that it could be heard by the Insurance Committee, which he chairs. His committee advanced the resolution without objection to the full Senate.
Luneau had issues with Talbot’s end run.
“We have processes that we respect,” he said, adding that the resolution was given a fair hearing in Health & Welfare and was defeated after senators learned it would cost more than $2.5 million, likely without learning anything new.
Talbot countered that once the $2.5 million figure was mentioned that became the only subject of the Health & Welfare hearing. Committee members didn’t consider that the last study was conducted seven years ago and that since then medicine has advanced. Back then, in 2014, 13 states augmented their nursing home care with the home health option. Now 28 states have done so.
Also, Talbot dropped from SR95 the requirement that the Louisiana Health Department calculate the rates, which would be needed for the bidding process to begin. Health department officials said that’s the bit driving study’s cost to more than $2.5 million.
“It’s very important. I think our seniors deserve this opportunity for us to look and see what’s changed,” Talbot said.
The Senate disagreed, rejecting the study resolution on a 13-24 vote.
The Louisiana Nursing Home Association opposed Talbot’s study saying that past studies argue against allowing insurance companies to pay for services that could keep some elderly and disabled at home rather being institutionalized. 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.
Voting to study home-care option for elderly and disabled (13): President Cortez, Sens Allain, Cloud, Connick, Foil, Hewitt, R. Mills, Mizell, Morris, Peacock, Price, Talbot and White.
Voting against SR95 (24): Sens Abraham, Barrow, Bernard, Boudreaux, Bouie, Fesi, Fields, Harris, Henry, Hensgens, Jackson, Johns, Lambert, Luneau, McMath, Milligan, F. Mills, Peterson, Pope, Reese, Smith, Tarver, Ward and Womack.
Not voting (1): Sen. Cathey.