Louisiana Charity Hospital Treats Fewer Low-Income Patients
Because Louisiana "essentially" has shifted all state prisoners with chronic illnesses to Louisiana State University's Earl K. Long Medical Center for treatment, the medical center has less room and money to care for low-income people, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports. The Baton Rouge-based center provides prisoners with services such as kidney dialysis, HIV drug programs and liver biopsies; these "high-cost" treatments have consumed "more and more" of the hospital's $79.8 million budget and have resulted in the hospital reducing its inpatient capacity from 120 slots to 80. As a result, the hospital can take new patients only once every three days. In addition, private hospitals in the Baton Rouge area have been forced to take on responsibility for caring for poor individuals who no longer can receive care through the Long Medical Center, the Advocate reports. Long Medical Center officials have asked the state for an additional $5.4 million -- which would bring in $12.7 million in federal matching funds -- for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Cary Dougherty, Long Medical Center's acting administrator, said that although treating prisoners is "the right thing to do ... we are shutting services for law-abiding people" (Shuler, Baton Rouge Advocate, 2/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.