Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2000

L’Observateur / June 3, 2000

DEAR EDITOR: During a period of time where the Louisiana Department of Health and Human Services, with a reduced budget, has cut services and payments to hospital and nursing home facilities, a group of states is listed who have readily available funds allocated to insure families now off welfare rolls and coming off welfare rolls, who have no plans where they work or can’t obtain health insurance at their jobs because the cost is too steep.

Bold as life, the State of Louisiana is listed as not having used any of the funds it has specifically for this purpose. Well, why not? And, if not, whatfunds are being used to give health care to the former welfare recipients and how many are not receiving care, especially children, while our state sits on these funds, Medicaid funds, like Jabba the Hutt? It does not take Einstein or Brainy Smurf to see there is money available to help former welfare recipient families in the state of Louisiana that is not getting to where it needs to go.

If people have no health insurance, they go to the regular Medicaid program or to state-run hospital facilities and other funds are covering those programs, burdening the largest budget in the state, while monies to cover the same individuals is not being used for the specific purpose it has been allocated for.

In the meantime, staffs to care for citizens are bieng cut to the bone in hospitals and nursing homes, and the elderly in elderly apartment complexes and in nursing homes who are in need of dentures are having to gum it and eat pured foods.

As many elderly broke their backs helping to build this state, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should be ashamed and embarrassed to have funds available for some use he is just sitting on, whacking former welfare recipients in the process and hurting children and their parents in need of health insurance.

It is obvious this department has too much money to manage with too little common sense on how to do it. Robbing Peter to pay Paul when Paulhas money in the bank gathering dust is just plain ignorant.

Maybe the state needs to appoint a regular poor guy, with no degrees except through the school of hard knocks, who is quite experienced in managing money and making ends meet, to help guide how funds can best be used and the state can get more for its money, plus things get done. Aformer welfare recipient with a GED used to managing money who knows how to and had to, just to survive.

Maybe just the individual is needed to bring on board as a consultant to the Department of Health and Human Services. I’m sure the department headswould be quite amazed at how well a regular poor guy can stretch a dollar and not cut services in the process, or reduced cuts to a bare minimum.

Someone from the trenches to help manage the trenches may be to bureaucrats a unique and unusual idea, but the perspective takes on more clarity when costs go down and services go up in the process. They’d bepatting each other and themselves on the back for bringing a regular guy on board.

Lillian Ridlen LaPlace

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