Senate Medicaid cuts cause fear in assisted living groups

Senate Medicaid cuts cause fear in assisted living groups

RALEIGH - Long term care providers in the state are worried a proposed budget bill from the state Senate could take away medicaid from thousand of people.

The Senate budget wants to place control of Medicaid into the hands of a new program, not the Department of Social Services. They also plan to make major cuts to the service. According to a report from the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult services, 5,220 people will lose coverage if the proposed plan goes into effect.

The budget was met with immediate resistance from healthcare providers and assisted living centers. One such center in New Bern claims the cuts will deny dozens of people benefits that currently pay for their medical care.

Susie Swaringen receives care at New Bern House, and though she lost her Medicaid in January, she's able to survive off the support from her family. Swaringen went over the Medicaid minimum monthly income by $20.

"It's like we're living in a world where they don't want you to get old," Swaringen's daughter Brenda Avent said. "They want you to be gone."

She's able to survive thanks to her family, but a director of New Bern House said many others won't if they lose Medicaid.

Out of 77 people living in New Bern House, the director said 35 could lose Medicaid benefits that currently receive. A majority of those people do not have anyone to fall back on like Swaringen does.

"There's people here who don't have anybody," Avent said. "They're to the mercy of the world."

North Carolina's Medicaid budget faces a shortfall of $93 million. The Senate budget still has to be approved by the state house of representatives. The house is drafting its own bill.

Gov. Pat McCrory and a group of doctors are urging the General Assembly to advance the governor's Medicaid overhaul plan after the North Carolina Senate essentially killed his idea in its budget.
McCrory and more than 30 white-coated physicians held a news conference Wednesday outside the Executive Mansion. They back the idea of creating hospital and doctor networks that would share in Medicaid savings and cost overruns. Senate Republicans say the proposal doesn't save enough and wants to go in another direction but hasn't detailed their path.
The governor says his proposal is pragmatic and should be voted on by lawmakers.
The House is assembling its budget now. Republicans in the chamber have been more inclined to back McCrory but also say the reform process will take many years.

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