AFA Update- Monday, March 23, 2015: Final votes on the supplemental budget

In a sparsely attended work session the Appropriations committee completed its work on the FY15 supplemental budget bills this evening.

Audio of today’s hearing is available here.

The committee approved two bills, combining the several bills submitted by the Governor.

LD 232, formerly contained all the items related to the AG’s office, the Judiciary and agencies like the Maine Human Rights Commission.  This bill now only contains the authorization for the Attorney General to spend funds in her budget as state match to draw down federal match required to pursue provider based fraud in the MaineCare program.

The Governor has had the opportunity to approve a financial order allowing this authorization since November of 2014.

The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit has recovered over $60.7M in recent years, is required by the federal government as part of the program and is also responsible for some adult protective cases including this horrific case from last year. The AG has told the committee that not providing the state match will jeopardize the work of the unit and federal match.

Republicans on the committee opted to protect what they saw as the prerogative of the Governor.

Sen. Valentino expressed outrage that her Republican colleagues would choose to jeopardize important efforts to pursue Medicaid fraud. She and Rep. Rotundo referred to compelling information about the activities of the unit.

The amended LD 232 was approved on party lines 7-5 Majority OTP-AM with a Minority report of ONTP.

LD 236, formerly the DHHS supplemental contains all of the items and subjects contained in the following LDs: 148, 232, 233, 234, 236, 576.

A series of amendments were proposed and adopted unanimously.

  • Approval of $22K for the Maine Indian Tribal State Commission
  • Approval of motion for the Fund for a Healthy Maine protected $4.6M in funds for prevention by safeguarding arbitration funds and allowing the sweeping of unexpended balances ($2.4M) from previous years
  • Acceptance of transparency language regarding the operation of RPC
  • Approved the reorganization of 2 Mental Health Worker II positions to Acuity Specialists
  • Rejected cuts to Drugs for the Elderly
  • Approved funds for Sidewalk repair at RPC
  • $1.7M for Indigent Legal Services
  • ($75K) from the Judicial Department
  • Approve the savings of $1.75M of debt service
  • Moving out General Assistance funding- no longer needed under new projections from the Department as confirmed in this message
  • Approved the use of $4.3M saved from the FY14 Cascade for future DHHS funding needs
  • Approved transfer of $500K from the Public Utilities Commission to the General Fund as proposed by the Chair of the Commission
  • Approved $2.5M for the continued operation of county jails
  • Approved the Department of Health and Human Services rejection of an initiative to save $20M by changing the timing of certain payments
  • Transfer $1.5M to the Maine Community College System for collective bargaining/retirement costs
  • A pair of position reclasses for the Secretary of State
  • Rejection of language allowing DHHS to transfer funds from the State Funded Foster Care/Adoption account to other purposes in the Office of Child and Family Services.

The bill was also exempted from the Appropriations Table.

Schedule

The rest of the week is devoted to work sessions and report backs on the Biennial budget.

Tuesday 1:00 PM: Joint Committee on Energy Utilities and Technology (may be written only) – Joint Committee on Labor, Commerce and Economic Development (may be written only) – In-Person Report from the Joint Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife – Other specific areas of discussion or voting not yet determined

Wednesday 1:00 PM: Joint Committee on State and Local Government (may be written only) – Joint Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs (may be written only) – In-Person Report from the Joint Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs – Other specific areas of discussion or voting not yet determined

Thursday: 1:00 PM: Joint Committee on Insurance and Financial Services (may be written only) Joint Committee on Transportation (may be written only) – Specific areas of discussion or voting not yet determined 3:00 pm Work Session on LD 1019 (The Biennial Budget) – In-Person Report from the Joint Committee on Agriculture Conservation and Forestry (TENTATIVE) – Other specific areas of discussion or voting not yet determined

Please join us or listen in here.

The full schedule is available here.

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