Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Federal health-care plan could end need for Louisiana's charity system

If the federal government approves a plan that gives most people medical insurance, much of Louisiana's charity hospital system could become unnecessary, a state health official says.

Charles Castille, undersecretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals, said Tuesday the federal government's proposal to expand the Medicaid program to cover anyone earning up to 130 percent of the poverty level would cover 1.9 million people in Louisiana -- about 45 percent of the population. The cards would guarantee payment at any hospital in the state.

He said DHH is working toward turning over as much health care as it can to the private sector because the price of operating a state-run system keeps escalating. For example, it costs the state $175,000 a year to care for a patient in a state-run developmental center when a private facility costs $85,000.

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