The main issue facing Louisiana legislators during the 2018 Legislative Session was how to balance the state budget given an estimated $648 million gap as a result of the expiration on June 30, 2018 of temporary taxes. The 2018 Louisiana State Legislature was in regular session from March 12, 2018 through May 18, 2018. In addition to the regular session Governor Edwards called three special sessions to address the budget issue. The third and final special session ended on June 24, 2018 with the legislature approving a 4.45% sales tax rate. The sales tax rate goes into effect July 1, 2018 and will remain in effect for the next 7 years.
The CPA began the session with a goal of getting $40 million added to the state budget to restore and rebase the rates for ICF providers, HCBS providers, and Support Coordination.
While $40 million was not added to the state budget, through the tireless work of the CPA board, its members and others (DD Council, LACAN, Arc of Louisiana and the Supported Living Network) the following was accomplished:
The Louisiana Department of Health budget was significantly cut early in the session, and if not corrected could have resulted in many individuals with a DD losing services. However, the budget was fully restored by the end of the session.
Over $12 million was added to LDH’s budget to fund increases in rates, bringing the night rate to $11.00/hour and increasing payments to providers who serve individuals with high needs. Funding will also be used to fund additional waiver slots targeted to those on the waiting list with urgent or emergent needs. This is the FIRST time in 10 YEARS that DD providers have seen any increase in rates.
Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go to get to the $40 million that we need to restore and rebase the rates. However, considerable progress was made with several legislators and we have a commitment from them to work with us to get the money needed to restore and rebase rates for fiscal year 20.