Proposed DHHS Cuts and HearingsDec 13, 2011 • 11:25 pm
Good afternoon, today I am writing because I think it’s critical that District 8 voters learn about the cuts to programs provided by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). These cuts, especially those to MaineCare, were proposed by the Governor to address a purported $220 million dollar shortfall in the DHHS. In this email, I describe the cuts and share the public hearing schedule in Augusta so you can get involved.
|What the Cuts Will Do
The governor’s budget takes away basic health care for more than 65,000 Maine people and dramatically reduces critical services, like prescription drugs for the elderly and dental care. The proposal cuts in half the Fund for Healthy Maine and eliminates all state funding for childhood Head Start program, which has proven to save money in the long run while improving economic opportunities for the poorest children in our state.
Throwing 65,000 people off of basic health care may look like it will reduce state costs in the short term, but it will inevitably shift costs onto hospitals, which will provide uncompensated emergency room care, and then onto businesses and individuals, who will have to pay higher health insurance premiums.
Those 65,000 Mainers won’t all of sudden stop needing health care and, as we all know, they won’t be able to afford to purchase health insurance. The problem won’t go away, it just shifts the burden, and the cost.
Most of the money allocated to DHHS is passed to providers such as hospitals, doctors offices and nursing homes. If the cuts proposed by the LePage Administration become reality, health care providers will reduce their work forces. The job loss will hit the state’s rural areas – which are already struggling with high unemployment – especially hard.
These cuts would also result in the state losing federal funds, which match state dollars at a 2-to-1 rate. Under the LePage plan, that money would stop coming into Maine to support doctors, nurses, pharmacies, clinics, group homes and other businesses in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors of our economy.
Many of these proposals were rejected because of their devastating impact by both Republicans and Democrats during budget negotiations earlier this year.
|The Hearing Schedule
This week the Appropriations Committee will hold hearings on these proposed cuts. The following is the schedule of the public hearings by broad category:
Wednesday, December 14, Starting at 9:00 AM
Programs, initiatives and language related to: elder services, developmental disabilities, and children’s mental health services, Child Medicaid, optional Medicaid coverage to families, state-funded foster care/adoption assistance and consumer directed attendant services. Also included would be the portions of the PNMI and Targeted Case Management cuts affecting these areas.
Thursday, December 15, Starting at 8:30AM
Friday, December 16, Starting at 8:30 AM
These cuts will have a huge impact on the way our State addresses health care and poverty. I see a lot of these health care costs being transferred to our emergency rooms and hospitals. Additionally, Maine will lose hundreds of millions of federal matching dollars and finally, all of this will translate into job losses across the state. I encourage you to make your feelings known. If you can’t come to Augusta, then please either call my office at 287-1515 or send me an e-mail.