Arts & Entertainment,
August 13th, 2012
By Alison Fensterstock, The Times-Picayune
In its nearly 15 years in business, the New Orleans Musicians Clinic has been, literally, a lifesaving resource; its innovative model, connecting musicians with free or low-cost care, has connected performers with affordable access to everything from smoking cessation programs to full courses of radiation and chemotherapy.
Over the years, it’s become a recognized and indispensable part of the local music scene — NOMC nurse practitioner Catherine Lasperches even turned up in a cameo as herself on HBO’s drama “Treme.”
To keep its costs low, the clinic relies on grant funding and Medicaid reimbursement as well as private donations, and financing its work has been an ongoing struggle. In early 2010, the expiration of a major post-Katrina federal grant put the clinic in serious financial jeopardy; its administrators had to tap-dance to stay afloat, re-prioritizing programs and cutting staff.
After new funding was secured via the Greater New Orleans Community Health Care Connection (a program administrated by the state Medicaid agency) as well as private donors, it seemed as if the clinic was back on track. But late last week, clinic founders Bethany and Johann Bultman posted an urgent message on the clinic’s website.
“As you know,” it began, “New Orleans’ musicians face a multitude of financial and health challenges, which directly (or indirectly) affect their physical and mental well-being. Now we are sorry to report, they are facing depleted health resources in our state.”
Because of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s decision to opt Louisiana out of expanded Medicaid coverage per the Affordable Health Care act, the Bultmans said, the clinic’s Medicaid and GNOCHC will be reduced by 15 percent.