Louisiana Tells Congress: Stop Healthcare Discrimination

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Restoring equal access to Medicare for five million dually eligible people with Medicare and Medicaid improves healthcare finances and decreases healthcare disparities.

NEW ORLEANS, July 22 /-USNewswire/ -- In June 2009, the Louisiana Legislature unanimously passed a resolution asking Congress to stop healthcare discrimination for five million of the oldest, poorest, sickest, and most disabled people in the nation. These are dually eligible people -- poor Medicare beneficiaries who also have Medicaid. They are the most costly population covered by any public healthcare program. In 2005, they cost Medicare and Medicaid almost $200 billion. NACDEP, the National Coalition for Dually Eligible People, supports Louisiana with its Position Paper at http://www.nacdep.org.

The Congressional Balanced Budget Act of 1997 decreased Medicare benefits for dually eligible people and created a two-tiered, discriminatory Medicare system. Wealthy Medicare beneficiaries get full Medicare benefits, while five million poor beneficiaries get partial Medicare benefits. In 2003, Tommy Thompson reported to Congress this decreased their access to primary medical and psychiatric care by 5% to 21%.

As access to primary care decreases, expensive emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and nursing home admissions increase. Decreasing healthcare access for our most expensive and fastest growing Medicare population is financially reckless.

The Balanced Budget Act decreased access for poor Medicare beneficiaries who are disproportionately elderly minorities and mentally and physically disabled people. This violates the intent of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. In the CMS Civil Rights Compliance Statement, Nancy-Ann DeParle pledged to abolish healthcare discrimination.

Dr. Sheldon Hersh, NACDEP President said, "Most dually eligible people in my New Orleans practice are elderly African-American grandmothers. Out of 40 dually eligible patients, 39 are African American, and 33 are women. One woman is 99 years old. Another woman is 103 years old. Decreasing healthcare access threatens their lives and is morally unjust."

NACDEP's plan will restore access, stop civil rights violations, decrease government-induced healthcare disparities, and help state Medicaid agencies -- at little cost to taxpayers. All Medicare beneficiaries worked, paid taxes, and earned the same Medicare benefits. NACDEP applauds Louisiana for leading the nation in healthcare justice for five million frail people.

About NACDEP

NACDEP is a Louisiana not-for-profit, educational organization dedicated to improving health care for dually eligible people with Medicare and Medicaid.

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