Dear House Democrats,
The Appropriations committee met around the horseshoe all day today to hear information on shortfalls.
- Caseload is down
- Cycle payments to providers are within reasonable limits
- But for hospital settlement payments, the 7 available months of program spending is at reasonable or reduced levels.
Where then is the shortfall?
Analysis suggests that the shortfall is the result of failed/unachieved savings initiatives. There is dispute between members of the committee and the department on the responsibility for the initiatives in question.
Current projections indicate that DHHS has sufficient resources for all of the 3rd quarter and most of the 4th quarter, into the month of June at least. These same projections suggest that the FY14 DHHS shortfall will be less than $44M.
The committee expressed a desire for an updated DHHS cash management document provided by the department for the close of the last fiscal year.
Ted Glessner, Administrator of the Courts, presented the shortfall and new spending needs of the Judicial branch. Three items have been previously discussed:
- Funding for Guardian ad Litem costs $400,000
- Increased funding for psychological exams $200,000
- A doubling of reimbursement for the chairpersons of medical malpractice pre litigation panels
A new item presented by Mr. Glessner regards court record checks. Separate from criminal history record checks, court record checks are currently provided at $15/name with the first one free. The idea was to allow individuals to receive their own records at no cost.
This system is being gamed by out of state data mining companies creating a great deal of work for the courts.
The Judiciary requests to increase the fee to $20 and limit the free records to your own record. This raises an additional $150,000. The courts propose retaining 20% of the total fee revenue in order to fund a position charged with responding to these requests on a timely basis.
STATE BOARD OF CORRECTION
Col. Mark Westrum, Chair of the State Board of Correction (SBOC) discussed with the committee the FY14 need for $2.5M. FY15 needs are still unknown.
The committee is interested in exploring the issue of “inverse debt”.
Col. Westrum expressed gratitude for the knowledge gained during this summer’s County Corrections Task Force. Previously, the SBOC did not advocate for their requests beyond asking the Governor.
Update- Thursday, February 13, 2014
Additional documents from the SBOC:
MAINE COMMISSION ON INDIGENT LEGAL SERVICES
John Pelletier, Executive Director of the Maine Commission on a Indigent Legal Services (MECILS) discussed the specifics of their request.
- Vouchers submitted are down
- Costs are up
While vouchers (cases) are down, the complexity of the remaining cases is greater. More cases involve the need for psychological reports or interpreters. Other factors are the increase in cases that are inherently complex including murders, other felonies and child protective cases, up 14.2%.
The MECILS request is $860,000 for FY14 and $1,015,000 for FY15.
Republicans on the committee inquired about using funds earned at prison labor to reimburse MECILS and the creation of a debt obligation to follow anyone who accesses indigent legal services.
Commissioner Mary Mayhew of the Department of the Health and Human Services (DHHS) spoke to the committee about questions posed to her department.
The department believes that Riverview Psychiatric Center (RPC) should still receive Disproportionate Share for Institutions for Mental Disease (DSH IMD). The department is working with the AG and outside counsel at Covington Burling to further this opinion. There also exists an alternative process to pursue these claims with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Should either of these arguments prevail $8.6M of shortfall in each year would no longer be a challenge.
A lengthy discussion of the other Riverview related funding requests followed.
The Commissioner’s visit was cut short by time constraints and will be rescheduled.
Roughly 8 weeks remain in the session.
Hearing and work sessions tomorrow have been postponed.
The entire schedule may be found here: http://www.maine.gov/legis/ofpr/appropriations_committee/schedule_agendas/index.htm
Please join AFA in room 228 if you would like. As always you can listen in here: http://www.maine.gov/legis/ofpr/appropriations_committee/audio/index.htm
Or watch the proceedings on Capitol Connection: http://www.mpbn.net/News/MaineCapitolConnection.aspx