SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Fears are high about what will happen to more than 30,000 senior citizens in Louisiana's nursing homes if proposed cuts at the state level take effect.
It's all because Louisiana leaders have yet to find a way to replace more than $1 billion in revenue set to expire this summer.
The House of Representatives has passed a budget proposal that includes deep cuts to health services. That legislation is under consideration in the state Senate.
On Wednesday, state officials will hold a news conference at 1 p.m. to discuss notices being issued this week to those who are at risk of losing coverage.
The law requires that letters be sent to the nursing homes in advance if cuts are possible.
It's step the Louisiana Health Department calls "unprecedented."
Margaret Wright, a 79-year-old who has lived at Garden Park Nursing and Rehabilitation in Shreveport for more than two years since a car accident, is among thousands of Louisiana senior citizens at risk of losing Medicaid coverage.
"I've stayed here for many reasons. One of them is I have so many medicines I have to take."
Wright said she's lucky to have daughters with whom she could live if her Medicaid is cut.
But she worries about many of her friends at the nursing home who are bedridden, can't eat without help or have nobody capable of giving them the care they need.
"I'm wondering what in the world is going to happen to these people," Wright said.
"It's frightening for me too. I'm so attached to these people who are so needy; and it scares me for them and myself too in the future."
Nursing home administrators are holding out hope that state lawmakers will find another way to fix Louisiana's budget deficit.
"We are worried about the welfare of our residents," said Arielle Buffington, assistant administrator at Garden Park.
"This would affect about 80 percent of the people that live here. So they would be essentially forced out of the nursing facility and would have to find placement other places, if they have it or not."
Nursing home officials say they are starting to get questions from concerned residents and family members about what's going to happen.
They are telling them to call their state legislators and ask them to find another way.
"At this time, we don't have any preparations made for anyone to leave the facility," Buffington said.
"We are just going to keep the faith and hope they make the right decision and continue the care we know how to give."