Louisiana’s Children need strong advocates. Louisiana’s children, who have no voice, no political sway, and no authority, need YOU on their side, working to make Louisiana a better place for children!
CRITICAL: Number of Children in Foster Care Increases
Following a remarkable three-year decline in the number of Louisiana children in foster care from August 2018 to August 2021, the number of Louisiana children in foster care has nearly returned to previous highs with an annual increase of about 500 children during each of the last two years from August 2021 through August 2023. The first significant reduction took place during the year before the COVID pandemic. What was going right for Louisiana’s children then?
CRITICAL: Too Many Babies Are Dying in Louisiana
CRITICAL: Louisiana’s “Ghost” and “Phantom” Networks Must Disappear
Managed care organizations (MCOs) are also called “Medicaid management companies.” These companies are responsible for creating healthcare and mental health provider networks to serve their members. They publish directories that list all the providers in their network. However, members, providers, and auditors have discovered that many providers listed in these directories are unavailable to serve the members.
“Ghost” and “phantom networks” describe directories maintained by managed care organizations, listing healthcare providers purportedly available for their members. However, these networks often include providers who never provided care – or no longer do so – for the plan’s members.
The reasons vary and are all bad for patients. Many of the listed “phantom” providers might not be accepting new patients, severely limit the number of Medicaid patients they see due to low payment rates, no longer participate in the insurance plan, may have moved or retired, or may have been included in a directory without their knowledge. As a result, patients can find it challenging to access care, even though it appears on paper that numerous providers are available.
The dangers of these fictitious networks are that they can lead to delays in care as patients try to find an available provider, and patients grow frustrated or lose trust in their insurance company or managed care organization. Compounding the harm to patients, there may also be additional financial costs if patients who cannot find a provider in their network seek out-of-network care at higher out-of-pocket costs.
Why does this matter for Louisiana’s children?
Our Methodist Aftercare Services staff assist children and families long after a child returns home from intensive residential care. One of their tasks is to connect families to resources in their home communities to assist the family as the child transitions back into the family, school, and community. We work with the family to create a local support system that includes medical and mental health services.
Our Methodist Aftercare Services staff find that many of the providers listed in the Healthy Louisiana MCO directories are ghosts. They may answer the phone, but they no longer accept Medicaid, limit the number of MCO members on their caseload, or don’t know why they are in the directory.
When services are unavailable for children and parents, it is easy for minor crises to become large and result in the child being readmitted to residential care or removed from the family. Louisiana’s ghost networks have got to go.
Ghost networks raise legitimate concerns about the transparency and integrity of managed care organizations. Patients deserve accurate, up-to-date provider directories. Many states have legislation that requires accuracy, but without enforcement, the legislation does not benefit citizens.
Understanding Mental Health ‘Ghost’ Networks provides links to public testimony submitted to the Senate Finance Committee in May of 2023.
“Laws were passed in California, Louisiana and Maryland requiring accurate directories, but the problems continued despite the legislation. The researcher studying these efforts concluded that the lack of progress was directly related to weak enforcement mechanisms, minimal penalties, and the lack of critical tools to improve compliance.” (Mary Giliberti, JD Chief Public Policy Officer Mental Health America Before The United States Senate Finance Committee Hearing: “Barriers to Mental Health Care: Improving Provider Directory Accuracy to Reduce the Prevalence of Ghost Networks” on May 3, 2023)
Read more at: Louisiana’s Ghost and Phantom Networks Have Got to Go
Learn about Louisiana’s Children in the News!
CRITICAL: Maternal Mortality Increases in Louisiana by 93%
Study shows sharp increases in maternal deaths over two decades: Some states see double the number of deaths among non-white populations by Kelcie Moseley-Morris – July 3, 2023 – Louisiana Illuminator
The study, published in the Journal for the American Medical Association on Monday, showed five states with a 93% increase in Black maternal mortality rates: Louisiana, New Jersey, Georgia, Arkansas and Texas.
Why does this matter for Louisiana’s children?
- Maternal deaths have a profoundly negative effect on the overall well-being of families. The death of a young mother can create emotional, psychological, and financial burdens for the remaining family members.
- Newborns are at risk when maternal deaths occur. Without a mother’s care and support, infants face increased health risks, and the baby’s risk of mortality increases.
- The health and opportunities of the mom’s surviving children are compromised. Children whose development is interrupted by grief experience a decline in their physical and mental health.
- Those for whom fiscal matters matter must understand that maternal deaths have a detrimental impact on the economic productivity of communities. When mothers die and families struggle to cope with the aftermath, loss of income can push families into poverty and chronic financial straights.
Finally, there is the simple fact that preventable deaths are wrong. We in Louisiana can and must do better in our efforts to reduce maternal deaths.
Great news for Louisiana kids! On June 7, 2023, Louisiana’s Legislature Senate Bill 137, which creates the office of the Louisiana Office of the State Child Ombudsman. Governor Edwards signed the bill into law as Act 325 on June 19. This new office will open in January 2024 with people who will hear the complaints of parents and caregivers about Louisiana’s services for children. The Children’s Ombudsman will help ensure Louisiana’s children receive the help they need. Before, it was hard to make complaints about services children received (or did not receive when they should have), but now there will be an independent person who will listen and help resolve legitimate complaints.
Educational and advocacy information we created to promote the creation of an Office of Children’s Ombudsman in Louisiana is available in a new location on this website: Child Ombuds 101.
2023 KIDS COUNT Data Book is Available
NEW: 2023 KIDS COUNT Data Book on Louisiana’s Children Now Available. (06/01/2023)
Louisiana’s Children Need Strong Advocates
Join us! If you would like to stay on top of the effort to persuade Louisiana’s Legislature and Governor to create an Office of Children’s Ombuds, share your contact information with us. You will receive periodic updates about the movement to create a Louisiana Office of Children’s Ombuds.