Jindal backs off hospice cuts

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Richard Alan Hannon /
Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Terri Kaaihue, Life Source Services of Baton Rouge community liaison, second from left, and director of nursing Michele Browning, center, rally Wednesday on the steps of the State Capitol in what turned into a celebration that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget cuts to end-of-life care had been averted.

Before the sun set and candles could be lit, a vigil protesting state budget cuts to hospice care turned into a celebration Wednesday night.

State Sen. Fred Mills Jr., R-St. Martinville, delivered the news that the cuts will be averted, allowing Medicaid patients to receive end-of-life care.

“Y’all give yourselves a round of applause and the hospice patients a round of applause. Y’all made this happen,” he told a group of people gathered on the front steps of the State Capitol.

The Jindal administration scraped together $1.1 million in unspent federal grant dollars to continue providing hospice services to dying patients beyond the Feb. 1 cutoff date.

The decision, a reversal of a cut Gov. Bobby Jindal made as part of mid-year budget reductions, came a week ahead of a legislative meeting to review and possibly reject the cut. Jindal’s cut also caught the attention of national media.

State Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein said the Jindal administration will revamp the program this spring, keeping the parts that work well.