March 28, 2013- Health and Human Services

The Appropriations Committee, in conjunction with the Committee on Health and Human Services, reviewed public health and public assistance programs during the public hearing on March 28, 2013.  In addition, associated agencies such as Hospice, the Disability rights Center, the Ombudsman Program, and the Maine Health Data Organization.

Of the 23 Public Health programs, 13 or 56.5% are flat funded compared to 2012-2013 Biennial funding.   Most of the public health programs are funded from multiple sources – General Fund, Federal Funds, and Other Special Revenues.

 No Change in Funding From 2012-2013 Biennium

 Aids Lodging House,                                                                       Maine School Oral Health Fund

  • Bone Marrow Screening,                                                              Prescription Drug Academic Detailing
  • Breast Cancer Services Special Program,                                   Rape Crisis Control
  • Comprehensive Cancer Screening, Detection                     Sexually transmitted Diseases
  • And Prevention,                                                                               Tuberculosis Control Program
  • Dental Disease Prevention                                                          Hypertension Control
  • Maine Asthma and Lung Disease Research

 The Governor’s Proposed Biennial Funding Changes for Public Health Programs

 Bureau of Health                                      +$24.7 million  [$28.4 million of new funding from the FHM]

  • Maine Water Well Drilling Program                                 +$7,600
  • Maternal & Child Health                                                        +$6.7 Million [[General Fund cut of $178,191]
  • Maternal & Child Health Block Grant                               ($200,000)
  • Medical Use of Marijuana Fund                                        +$24,837 [Other Special Revenues]
  • Plumbing – Control Over                                                     ($3,000)   [Other Special Revenues]
  • Risk Reduction                                                                          ($149,102)  [Federal Block Grant]
  • Universal Child Immunization                                             +$23.8 million  [Other Special Revenues]
  • Wild Mushroom Harvesting Fund                                     no funding for FY 2014 and FY 2015

 The Governor’s Proposed Biennial Funding – Public Assistance and Eligibility Programs

 Additional Support for Persons in Retraining & Employment – Funding increase of $690,000

  • Bureau of Family Independence                                                       Funding increase of $4 million
  • Disability Determination                                                                       No funding Change
  • Food Supplement Administration                                                     Funding increase of $4.7 million
  • General Assistance [General Fund]                                                 No funding change from FY 2013
  • General Assistance [Other Special Revenues]                            ($500,000) cut from FY 2013 funds
  • State Supplement to Federal Supplemental Income                                ($300,000) cut from 12-13 Biennium
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families [General Fund      $900,000 increase from 2012 &13
  • TANF [Other Special Revenues]                                                        ($33.7 million) cut from 2012/2013
  • TANF [Federal Block Grant]                                                                 No funding Change

Major Issues

 Disability Determination.    One of the outcomes from the General Assistance funding negotiations in the 125th Legislature was a pilot project to significantly hasten the social security disability determination process by which General Assistance recipients are determined to be eligible for social security disability.    Eligibility for disability can significantly reduce the cost of General Assistance in both the short-run and the long-run.

General Assistance.     Major controversial changes have been proposed by the Governor as follows:

Any person not eligible for TANF or any person who has been sanctioned for violating the rules or state law governing General Assistance are not eligible for General Assistance.

  • Any person who has reached the lifetime 60-month benefit under TANF is not eligible for General Assistance,
  • The rate of state reimbursement to municipalities for local General Assistance payments is reduced from 85% to 50% for certain municipalities [service centers] with a disproportionate share of GA recipients.   All State reimbursements for General Assistance may not exceed 50%, except for Maine’s tribal members.
  • Repeals the requirement that DHHS provide supplemental security income for legal noncitizens.

General assistance.    Following the creation of a Committee by the 125th Legislature to review State General Assistance Reimbursement to municipalities, the Committee issued a report with recommendations.   A majority of the Committee members rejected the Governor’s proposed General Assistance proposals in the budget.    A majority of the Committee’s members urge the Legislature to adopt the entire Committee’s report and recommendations.

Targeted Care Management for the Top 20% of the Highest Cost MaineCare Members.   The Governor’s budget cuts $16.2 million in General Fund money and $35.3 million in Federal Expenditure funds for the top 20% of Maine Care members who consume 87% of all MaineCare expenditures.   This is a momentous challenge in the short run, and the Legislature needs to know how DHHS plans to implement this proposal and come up with $51 million of savings [General Fund and federal funds] over a 2-year period.

Health and Human Services (HHS)

The items in the Governor’s budget related to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) can be found here.

 The committees opened the afternoon with testimony from many small agencies outside of DHHS but in the jurisdiction of the HHS committee.

Testimony of non-DHHS agencies

 DHHS

Commissioner Mayhew presented testimony in support of the Governor’s proposals for her Department.

Addressing first the Governor’s proposals to make reduction to Public Assistance and Eligibility, Commissioner Mayhew noted that the General Assistance (GA) initiatives in the budget materials are incomplete and will need to be replaced by the Department.  In deference to the members of the public gathered to present their testimony both committee opted to hold questions for the Department until Work Sessions.

Commissioner Mayhew was followed by members of the public who detailed the impact of the Governor’s proposed cuts to General Assistance, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), the elimination of assistance to elderly, blind or disabled refugees or immigrants and other cuts.

 Public Testimony in Opposition to Governor’s cuts Part 1

Schedule

Friday, March 29, 2013 9:30 AM the Appropriations committee will be joined by the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and Marine Resources committees to hold public hearings on the portions of the Governor’s budget related to those committee’s jurisdictions.

The full schedule may be found here.

Audio and more

Please feel free to join the committee as they do their work. You may also listen online using the following link: http://www.maine.gov/legis/ofpr/appropriations_committee/audio/index.htm

You also may watch broadcasts of these and other committee hearings on the Maine Capitol Connection pilot channel through Maine Public Broadcasting.  You may watch over the air or through your cable provider as well as online here: http://www.mpbn.net/News/MaineCapitolConnection.aspx

Thank you and please let me know if you have questions.

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