Hurricane hits healthcare reform

October 1, 2005

Washington, D.C.— The floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina destroyed hospitals, washed out medical records and separated thousands of patients from doctors and from nursing homes. Biomedical research labs at Tulane and other New Orleans universities have been devastated by the loss of research animals and frozen tissues, as well as extensive data files.

WASHINGTON, D.C.- The floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina destroyed hospitals, washed out medical records and separated thousands of patients from doctors and from nursing homes. Biomedical research labs at Tulane and other New Orleans universities have been devastated by the loss of research animals and frozen tissues, as well as extensive data files.

On the policy front, Republican plans to cut $10 billion over five years from the Medicaid program were put on hold as states struggled to provide care for thousands of evacuees. Medicaid officials are trying to make it easier for people from the Gulf region to qualify for healthcare services in other states, including coverage of prescription drug refills, vaccinations and insulin products. Hurricane victims don't have to document income eligibility or show previous coverage to gain Medicaid services.

Some members of Congress also would like to delay current plans to shift drug coverage for poor elderly patients from Medicaid to the new Medicare drug program, which will take affect January 1. The process for changing coverage of these dual-eligible seniors is in the works, though, and likely to continue.