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ANCOR in the News - 01.27.20

State News 01/27/20

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Rights & Access

Arizona – (Tucson.com, 01/26/20) Arizona’s Medicaid office is partnering with three insurers to create a long-term-care workforce.  The participating insurers include Southwest Catholic Health Network Corp., Banner University Family Care, and United Healthcare Community Plan.  They are expected to build this workforce by 2024 and are also partnering with Dept. of Economic Security’s Division of Developmental Disabilities.  The project includes initiatives such as developing high school-based technical education programs.  A spokesperson for the state’s Health Care Cost Containment System said they are also supporting legislation that deals with training and testing direct-care workers to help increase career mobility and decrease training and hiring costs.  Southwest Catholic Health Network has committed $2 million to help recruit, train, hire and retain between 6,000 – 10,000 direct care staff by 2022. Other community-based organizations such as the United Way will also be providing certified training to direct-care workers. In Arizona alone, approximately 41,000 new direct-care jobs are expected to open by 2026.

 

Medicaid, Medicaid expansion, MLTSS

Kansas – (Hays Post, 01/23/20) Despite the largely supported agreement to expand Medicaid reached between Gov. Laura Kelly and Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, there are still several ways in which a small group of legislators could sandbag the compromise.  They could do so by amending the legislation to require higher premiums, penalties of exclusion from the program for non-payment of premiums, offering only partial coverage or a tiered approach, and imposing a work requirement. As this bill heads to the Senate, it looks like 22 of 40 members are in support of the bill and could clean up any troublesome amendments that come out of committee.  The House leadership on the other hand does not support the bill is threatening to hold it hostage as leverage on the issue of abortion.

Wyoming – (Casper Star Tribune, 01/26/20) A group of Wyoming health organizations, called Healthy Wyoming has announced its plan to lobby the state’s legislature to expand Medicaid.  The coalition includes the WY Medical Society, the state hospital association, AARP Wyoming, and chapters of the American Heart Assoc and the American Cancer Society. According to Chris Merrill of the Equality State Policy Center and coalition member, the group’s “sole and explicit role” is expanding Medicaid.    Last year the Joint Revenue Committee of the legislature established a framework for expanding Medicaid with the first step directing the administration to study expansion and forward a recommendation to the Health Department. The coalition’s launch of the initiative “includes a question-and-answer handout with facts about expansion and a Facebook video quoting several University of Wyoming medical students speaking in favor of the effort”.

 

State Budget

Georgia (Athens Banner-Herald, 01/26/20) Governor Brian Kemp has submitted his mid-year budget adjustments for the current year and his proposal for FY2021 and the outlook is bleak for many safety net programs.  “Many budget cuts will have debilitating effects on services, especially in rural communities” said Taifa Smith Butler, president and CEO of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, an Atlanta-based public policy nonprofit.  State revenues are growing much slower than expected and some blame the legislature’s move to cut the state’s income tax rates from 6% to 5.75% two years ago.  In the proposed plan, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities is targeted for the second greatest reduction equaling $35 million, surpassed only by the Department of Corrections with a proposed reduction of $54 million.

New Mexico – (Albuquerque Journal, 01/23/20) Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s spending plan for the coming fiscal year calls for an 8% increase to the Department of Health and specifically to developmental disabilities services.  The funding is aimed at overhauling the state-run program by addressing the waiting list that is about 5000 people with an average wait time of 13.5 years. The budget package specifically includes: $5 million for a supports waiver” to offer limited services to 2,000 people on the waiting list; $7.5 million to remove 300 people from the waiting list; and $4.5 – $5.9 million increase in rates for service providers.

New York – (City and State NY, 01/21/20) Despite the $6.1 billion budget gap, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal for this year keeps funding fairly consistent for human services.  Specifically, the budget maintains $170 million for nonprofit employees in the offices of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Addiction Services.  Additionally, $15 million is being directed to develop housing for people with I/DD and $20 for community-based residential services.