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Thousands of Elderly, Disabled Face Clearing Louisiana Nursing Homes About Medicaid Cuts



BATON ROUGE, La. – In Louisiana, tens of thousands of elderly and disabled people could soon lose their Medicaid benefits because the state faces a budget deficit of more than $ 500 million.

Clearance announcements go on Thursday to thousands in nursing homes and group homes.

Betty Waller, 89, is a polio survivor living in a nursing home in Baton Rouge. Their lifespan pays off for some of their care, but Medicaid is needed for the rest.

"I will not live under a bridge, but it's a really scary thing," she said.

On July 1

, she could be one of about 37,000 people in the state who will lose her Medicaid entitlement if the state does not balance its budget.

Jim Tucker operates 12 nursing homes in the capital and 800 of his patients may be asked to leave.

"It has the potential to kill people," said Tucker. "I'm not trying to frighten people by design," said Gov. John Edwards. "The cuts are so catastrophic that we should not even consider them while we sit here. Legislators have failed to act in a fiscal session last year and a special session this year."

Republican Cameron Henry is head of the Grants Committee at Louisiana House, and says they want a budget that is sustainable in the long run. He says the Republicans may be willing to pay a tax that the governor wants.

We asked Waller, the inhabitant of Baton Rouge, what she would say to the deputies about the cuts.

"I do not know," she replied. "I can not see how they can take it away, I thought it was here forever."

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