June 5, 2013- HHS, Labor and Tax initiatives

Just before midnight the Appropriations committee emerged from partisan caucuses to consider proposals and take votes on amendments.

Amended Language Part BBB- Rep. Rochelo presented language to replace the governor’s plan to charge utilities to vendors who participate in the Division of the Blind’s Business Enterprise Program with a working group charged with reviewing the Business Enterprise Program. The amendment was unanimously approved.

PNMI Rate Equalization-   Rep. Rochelo also presented an amendment requiring DHHS to standardize room and board rates for adult mental health residential services by January 1.  The amendment was unanimously approved.

1.5% All other DHHS Department wide reduction– Generating $19M in savings this amendment, presented by Rep. Chase reduces contract funding across DHHS. It exempts the following programs from the reductions:

  • Hospital services
  • Developmental Services Waiver
  • Developmental Supports Waiver
  • Independent Supports
  • Foster Care/Adoption Assistance

The amendment was unanimously approved.

Technology savings- Rep. Chase presented an amendment proposed by the work of Rep. Stuckey. The amendment dedicates savings from use of technology in the Section 21& 29 developmental disabilities waiver towards reducing the waiting list for those services. The amendment was unanimously approved.

Medical Add-on– The Governor’s budget proposed the elimination of support for the specialized services and training used to support individuals with developmental disabilities. An amendment proposed by Rep. Sanborn delays that proposal until October 2014. This allows time for a revamp of the rate methodology used to ensure continued adequate resources for care. Through the belated proper application of the provider tax, there are sufficient funds to continue the current service until October 2014.  The amendment was unanimously approved.

Substance Abuse Services- Rep. Rotundo presented an amendment to ensure the continued operation, with $1M, of the two inpatient substance abuse treatment facilities, Mercy Hospital and St. Mary’s. The supplemental budget provided similar support. The amendment was unanimously approved.

Hospital services- Senators Cain and Flood presented an amendment to deal with a myriad of hospital proposals:

  • Accept the rebasing of the hospital tax in both years to FY2012, on a manual basis for revenue of $17.9M/year
  • Provide the “match” portion of tax and match to hospitals at a rate agreed to by the Maine Hospital Association at a cost of $5M
  • Accept a rate cut to outpatient hospital services, originally proposed by the Governor
  • Critical access hospitals at 10%. The final percentage will be finalized Thursday morning and the amendment considered at that time.

Rep. Carey shared language developed in work with Rep. Chase to create the Property Tax Fairness Credit, a replacement for the Governor’s drastic changes to the Circuit Breaker Program.

Schedule

Appropriations will meet tomorrow both in caucus and on mic with the goal of completing committee work on the budget.

The full schedule may be found here: http://www.maine.gov/legis/ofpr/appropriations_committee/schedule_agendas/index.htm

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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