On Wednesday, March 17, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed all seven department budget bills, including the budget for the Michigan Department of Community Health (SB 1152). It cuts $830 million gross ($70 million general fund) from the Governor’s proposal. The majority of the cut comes from slashing Community Mental Health non-Medicaid funding, eliminating Medicaid coverage for caretaker relatives, eliminating Medicaid coverage for 19- and 20-year-olds, and implementing a 4% reduction in physician Medicaid reimbursement rates (excluding emergency room, obstetrics, pediatrics, and primary care). On the positive side, the recommendations include restoring funding for Medicaid adult dental benefits and the donated dental program.
These budget cuts point out, once again, that each and every one of us needs to contact our state legislators and urge them to address REVENUE. Cutting funding for one program to restore or maintain funding for another program is like rearranging the chairs on the Titanic – the ship is going down unless this state’s structural deficit is addressed.
Please keep up ongoing conversations with your elected officials. They need to hear from their constituents who want a brighter future for our state. Please visit www.abettermichiganfuture.org for materials and information that can be used in discussions about the vital need for more revenue for this state. The tea party is well organized and making sure that elected officials are hearing from them. We need to assure that elected officials are also hearing from people (like you) who understand the implications of cuts and want a different future for our state.
Along those lines, the House Department of Community Health Appropriations Subcommittee (chaired by Representative Gary McDowell) has already begun hearings on the FY 2011 budget recommendations for MDCH. A hearing was held on March 15 in Traverse City and another is planned for Detroit on March 22 (10 am, Sinai-Grace Hospital Auditorium, 6071 W. Outer Drive, Detroit, MI 48235). Several Michigan Community Health Center representatives will provide testimony at this hearing to advocate for restoring Medicaid adult dental benefits and for avoiding cuts to Medicaid services (mental health) and eligibility (for 19- and 20-year-olds and caretaker relatives).
Additional hearings are scheduled to be held in Lansing on Monday, April 19 (Mediciad, Public Health, Health Policy, and Crime Victims) and Monday, April 26 (Mental Health/Substance Abuse and Services to the Aging). Please contact Doug Paterson, MPCA’s Director of State Policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to testify at either of the Lansing hearings. Legislators need to hear that their constituents support revenue options and will stand behind their elected officials who vote for revenue options.