On May 1, 2013 we will celebrate the 15th year the New Orleans' Musicians' Clinic. We shake our heads at the irony that according to Governor Bobby Jindal, it is "prudent" for Louisiana to return to the "good old days" when the uninsured patients in Louisiana suffered the worst health care outcomes in the USA because their only health care option was to be treated in the Charity Hospital System ER. This urgent care, up until the US Army Corps of Engineer's post-Katrina floods closed Charity Hospital in September 2005, was well-funded by federal dollars from the Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program. The only difference is that uninsured patients in 2014 have even fewer options as Charity has been replaced with the much smaller University Hospital . . . and the public clinic at the former Lord & Taylor. The DSH dollars remain a federal "windfall" for Jindal as he "reforms" Louisiana's health care system by refusing the federal Medicaid money that would help us keep our patients alive.
Concurrent with the abandoning of Louisiana's statewide safety net hospitals, Governor Jindal is refusing to accept the federal expansion of Medicaid (Obama care). He has also proposed to the state legislature to increase Louisiana's sales tax, inhibiting the working poor to afford medications and healthy food. Religious leaders from a cross-section of Christian faiths, including clergy from Baptist, Episcopal, Methodist and Unitarian churches from more than 70 Louisiana cities and towns signed the letter opposing the governor's tax plan. Their letter states that even before Jindal's proposed changes, Louisiana already has a regressive tax structure in which families earning less than $16,000 per year pay 10.6 percent of their income in state and local taxes, while families earning over $1 million per year pay 4.6 percent.
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), all USA adults who earn 138 % or below of the federal poverty level would be eligible to enroll in Medicaid beginning in 2014, IF A STATE OPTS IN. The federal government initially pays 100 % for the first 3 years of ACA. The Medicaid expansion is projected to provide health care coverage for between 200,000-400,000 of Louisiana's uninsured poor. That would mean eligibility for all in Louisiana earning up to $1,285 a month, or, for a family of four, the earning level would be up to $2,651. In other words, the majority of the NOMC's patients would be covered for their basic health needs by ACA, with NOMC donations funding additional care.