DSHS Budget Proposal would Harm Health Care, Cost Federal Funding
Even with the specter of I-1033 behind us, the state budget situation is bleak because of the lingering impact of the economic recession. The deficit facing the Governor as she prepares her budget could be as high as $1.8 billion.
A recent memo from the Department of Social and Health Services' Health and Recovery Services Administration —- written in response to the Governor’s request for budget reduction proposals -- helps illustrate the size of the problem. Acknowledging that "these are serious cuts, and cuts on top of cuts," the Department proposed deep reductions in key health care programs:
- The largest reduction ($69.2 million) would come by eliminating important benefits for lower income adults receiving Medical Assistance, including maternity support services, hospice, hearing, non-emergent dental, vision, podiatry, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, interpreters for medical services, and Medicare Part D (prescription drugs) copays. Funding for school-based Medicaid services would also be eliminated ($5.6 million).
- The proposal would eliminate access to state programs that provide health care to lower income children between 205 percent and 300 percent of the federal poverty line, taking a step backward on the state’s commitment to "Cover All Kids" in order to save $11.6 million.
- Reductions in mental health care ($12.9 million) would include eliminating funding for the Program for Adaptive Living Skills and eliminating funding for community support services for individuals discharged from state hospitals.
- The proposal would also eliminate drug and alcohol treatment for all low-income adults not enrolled in a separate DSHS program ($5.5 million).
- There are also $8.3 million in administrative cuts and staff reductions included in the proposal.
The reductions in state spending are only part of the story. These proposed cuts would cost the state an estimated $101.4 million in federal matching funds.