Riverland won’t be affected by state cutbacks

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 3, 2003

FERRIDAY, La. &045; Riverland Medical Center will not initially be affected by $8 million in cuts to the state health care budget.

Those recently announced cuts will reduce Medicaid payments to hospitals that provide in-patient acute care by 15 percent.

Riverland Medical Center Administrator Vernon Stevens explained that hospitals &045; such as

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Riverland &045; that operate 38 percent of their business on Medicaid cannot afford to have a 15 percent cut to that area.

&uot;The Rural Health Coalition has been successful in limiting cuts to hospitals,&uot; Stevens said. The coalition is a non-profit trade organization representing small rural hospitals in Louisiana.

Jack Stolier, a healthcare lawyer and general council to the coalition, said that due to the efforts of David Hood, secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals, and a state law passed in 1997, small rural hospitals will not be affected by the 15 percent cut.

&uot;Our state Legislature had the foresight to enact a state law in 1997 that recognizes the that rural hospitals are an endangered species, that they play an important role in health care in rural Louisiana and are commonly the largest employers in these areas and need to be preserved&uot; Stolier said.

Under the law, the secretary of DHH is to maximize reimbursement available to small rural hospitals, given their fragile financial state.

As a result, DHH &uot;has elected to exempt small rural hospitals from the 15 percent across the board cut that other hospitals have experienced,&uot; Stolier said.

Louisiana Hospital Association lobbyist Sean Prados said the cuts will cost affected LHA members $5.3 million this fiscal year and $10 million to $15 million in billings collected next fiscal year, according to The Associated Press.

Louisiana’s Medicaid program is taking a hard hit because the state is bringing in less money than was expected for the current year.