Friday, May 01, 2009
State Budget Update
We are pleased that the House made a number of needed changes, and we hope that the Senate will continue working toward full restoration of funding for human service programs. Some of the key changes included:
- Adding $50 million per year for child and adult protective services; These programs are still $12 million short of full restoration;Boosting funding for the Second Harvest Food Banks to $12 million per year, leaving the program $5 million per year below the requested level;
- Adding $1 million per year for behavioral health services for children under the age of 7;
- Increasing the Medicaid rate ceiling for behavioral health providers by ½ of 1% in each year of the biennium; and
- Increasing home and community based options for long term care by creating a “superwaiver” in the Department of Aging and ending limitations such as the number of slots in the assisted living program and regional limits for the self-directed Choices waiver.
We are disappointed that the House chose not to restore full funding to county job and family service departments even though more Ohioans are requesting assistance. The House also removed some executive proposals and added other provisions that will increase costs and make it more difficult to keep the budget in balance. In the long run these choices will add to the already substantial FY 2012-2013 structural deficit. Several of these items include:
- Elimination of a provision that limited reimbursements to hospitals from Medicaid managed care plans to rates paid for Medicaid fee for service. The removal of this proposal will increase Medicaid managed care costs by $35.1 million in FY 2010 and $110.5 million in FY 2011 and by even more in the next biennium;
- Increasing state support for nursing facilities – an industry where the supply of beds exceeds demand; and
- Elimination of proposed sentencing reforms that would substantially reduce the number of low-level, non-violent offenders in prisons.
Let’s hope that the forecast specialists at the Department of Taxation and Legislative Service Commission are adding foil to the antennae on their crystal balls to improve the signal and rubbing lucky pennies as they update their estimates.
Advocates need to stay alert, engaged, and informed. The ride is just getting started.
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