DHHS supplemental budget passes, is signed

Posted Wednesday, February 29, 2012 in News

DHHS supplemental budget passes, is signed

Mary Mayhew, DHHS Commissioner

by Gina Hamilton

AUGUSTA -- The supplemental budget for fiscal year 2012 was passed last Thursday, trimming $120 million, and keeping the lights on, and contrary to his initial statements, Gov. Paul LePage has signed it into law.  The most controversial (or federally illegal) aspects were stripped from the budget before it passed, and Senate Democrats (and a Republican) who had voted to block passage of the bill on Friday, Feb. 17 voted to pass this time after assurances that veterans who would be dropped from MaineCare eligibility would have their specific needs addressed by legislation later in this session.

However, the budget is only good through June 30 of this year, and that means a supplemental for FY 2013 has to be worked out by mid-April.  Republicans and Democrats are worlds apart on the 2013 budget, which would have cut childless adults from the roles, as well as dropped the eligibility for parents to 100 percent of the federal poverty level.  Federal rules will require MaineCare for people earning 133 percent of the poverty line when the health care act takes effect in 2014, so the move would have been a temporary savings in any case.  Currently, parents of children on MaineCare are eligible for MaineCare if they have an income of 200 percent of the poverty level.  The change to 133 percent will take place in October.

For FY 2012, the compromise budget bill, LD 1816, makes the cuts through a combination of changes to MaineCare eligibility and shifting funds from various accounts. It also includes an additional $25 million in savings across state government that were identified by a budget streamlining committee last fall.

The compromise budget also dropped the governor’s proposed cuts to the drugs for the elderly program, the Fund for Healthy Maine, to private non-medical institutions and to hospitals for rate reimbursements.

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