In Louisiana, approximately 37,000 elderly and disabled people are at risk of losing their homes due to Medicaid cuts because of insufficient state funds. The state budget is $500 million dollars short.

Notices of eviction started going out today to many in nursing homes. The Lousiana eviction has started a looming panic for the tens of thousands who rely on Medicaid for their care.

Betty Waller, an 89 year old polio survivor and nursing home resident in Baton Rouge, told local news station WDBJ, “I won’t be living under a bridge somewhere, but still it’s a really scary thing.”

Jim Tucker is a nursing home administrator in Baton Rouge. He runs 12 nursing homes and hundreds of his residents are at risk of eviction. His outlook is more dire: “It has the potential to kill people,” he says.

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ chief financial officer stated that the state is not legally bound to send eviction notices within a specific timeframe. However, the state felt obliged to notify residents of the imminent evictions to provide early options.

Department of Health Secretary Rebekah Gee said through tears at a press conference, “These are real people. We know their stories. Our hearts are breaking, but we can’t provide services without money.”

Political figures are divided on the issue. Some think the early eviction notices are a political tactic for the state to compel the Legislature to raise taxes.

“This is the lowest of the low in my 45 years of public service, and it’s started a panic that’s unnecessary; calls are pouring into our offices,” said Sen. Jim Fannin, R-Jonesboro. “This is nothing more than a political maneuver and an ugly one for folks at the most vulnerable time of their lives.”

Rep. Chairman Cameron Henry (R-Metairie) said at a Wednesday conference that the governor is needlessly “striking fear into the elderly of our state.” The department pushed back responding that they are giving “people as much time as possible to plan.”

The department has expanded hours at its call center to answer questions from residents who will receive the letters.

Call center representatives are available from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The number is 1-888-342-6207.