MONROE, LA - Cuts to safety net hospitals could hurt the community deeply. Safety net hospitals help train doctors, surgeons, and nurses. For many, safety net facilities are the first and only place for emergencies, cancer treatments, and care that can save lives.
West Monroe's Roy Aaron says he's ninety-eight percent cancer free, but just a year ago was a different story.
"I probably wouldn't have got treatment. I probably wouldn't be here right now," Aaron says.
He says if it weren't for University Health Conway in Monroe, stage three lung cancer would have taken his life.
Treatment costs can be too high for many cancer patients. Connie Candler says Conway's care is affordable and valuable.
"The surgery clinic is good, oncology is excellent, I've been in there in December and I got real good care," Candler says.
If Louisiana lawmakers pass the House Budget Committee's plan, Conway and other safety net hospitals could lose millions.
"The majority of our patients fall under Medicaid and Medicare," says University Health Conway President, Jonathan Phillips.
LSU Shreveport's Chancellor says hospitals could go bankrupt, leaving many low income patients without care.
"If you don't have those facilities available for them, you see a vast decrease in the ability to care for them," says Phillips.
Conway serves as the safety net hospital for 12 parishes.
"Not only does it affect the care of hundreds of thousands of patients, cancer, surgery and over five-thousand inpatients, it also has the possibility of affecting the LSU Shreveport Medical School," said Phillips. "If we lose beds, we lose patients, and we lose residency slots. It could have an impact on us providing future medical care providers."
The committee plan could gut expanded Medicaid, which gave health insurance to more than 400,000 Louisianians who had none before.
Governor John Bel Edwards says the plan's 'not worth the paper it's written on,' and is pushing for another special session to change Louisiana's tax code.
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