Louisiana opts out of Medicaid home care program

The administration of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has refused to participate in an Affordable Care Act-linked program intended to improve home healthcare for Medicaid beneficiaries, reported the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Louisiana will not participate in the Community First Choice program, which would provide additional funding for home attendants for frail Medicaid enrollees. The intent of Community First is to keep enrollees out of more costly nursing homes and keep hospital readmissions in check. Altogether, Louisiana is forfeiting a rise in federal Medicaid cost coverage from 62 percent to 68 percent, according to the Times-Picayune.

Calder Lynch, director of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, said participating in the program would have meant expanding home health eligibility to 21,000 more Medicaid recipients, which the state could not afford.

"The (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) just wasn't being flexible enough to make this new program work for us," Lynch told the Times-Picayune.

Although Community First Choice is a three-year demonstration project, research has suggested that the use of home healthcare for patients with chronic conditions reduces hospitalizations. A 2011 study by the firm Avalere Health concluded that home health spending for patients with conditions, such as diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease cut Medicare costs substantially compared to patients who did not receive such services.

To learn more:
- read the Times-Picayune article