… by Doug Paterson, MPCA Directory of State Policy
As of 9:30 on Tuesday September 29, most all of the conference committees trying to hammer out budget bills between the House and Senate have met and signed conference report bills. The only Department bill still to be negotiated is the Department of Transportation bill for which a conference committee meeting is scheduled early Wednesday morning. If all these bills are passed by the House and Senate before midnight Wednesday no continuation bills will be needed.
About 6:15 Tuesday night, the conference committee on the Department of Community Health budget met and passed the bill out of committee. It now goes to the floor.
Of major concern is the reduction of all the DHS funding in the Primary Care Line, $2 million dollars, which will have an impact on several of Michigan’s Community Health Centers including organizations in Flint, Grand Rapids, Jackson and Detroit.
The report also includes:
- An 8% provider rate reduction to Medicaid providers
- A cut of $40 million to non-Medicaid Community Mental Health
- A cut of $2.8 million to Community Substance Abuse Prevention, Education and Treatment programs
- A reduction to the Healthy Michigan Fund from about $28 million to $11 million
The State Loan Repayment will be continued but only at a level that funds current commitments. No funding for any new loans will be available.
Finally, the Medicaid adult dental benefit remains eliminated.
These cuts are simply not acceptable.
There is still major concern on the part of most Democrats that these cuts go too far and that bills that propose new revenue are needed. As I have reported before, the QAAP (tax) on physicians continues to get some traction but is vehemently opposed by the Michigan State Medical Society, many House members and “dead on arrival” in the Senate.
As I indicated at the MPCA Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, if this revenue solution is adopted, there is agreement that the “optional services” (including Dental) would be restored. If this proposal is not passed, we will need to insist on consideration of other revenue bills. Legislators need to pass something that raises additional revenue to avoid these cuts.
I urge you to continue to have discussions with your legislators and work with others in your networks and community to advocate for “revenue solutions” to mitigate these cuts. People at the capitol have to hear that message from as many constituents as possible. The opposition is well organized and loud but the impact of these cuts is devastating!