Author: Marianne Suarez

  • N.C. House’s 2010-11 Budget Recommendations: Health and Human Services

    The House's 2010-11 budget recommendations would include total Health and Human Services (HHS) spending of $5.04 billion, once more than $1 billion in federal stimulus funds are factored in. The House plan appears to spend $3.97 billion, but the more than $1 billion in federal funding - mostly for Medicaid - appears in the state budget as a "cut," and therefore does not accurately reflect the actual amount being spent on state HHS programs. One particular sticking point of the House plan is that it relies on roughly $500 million of anticipated federal Medicaid funds that have yet to be confirmed for disbursement. The House budget plan also includes an additional $430 expansion of state Medicaid appropriations to accommodate unanticipated growth in the program. This expansion is in addition to the $273 million expansion already planned for in the biennial budget approved last year. On net, the House budget plan would reduce the previously approved 2010-11 HHS appropriations by $351 million. The House budget proposal is different from the Senate's and Governor's proposals in several ways. The House proposes to increase funding for NC Health Choice, a state-funded health insurance program for children from low-income families that make too much to be eligible for Medicaid, by $3.3 million - an amount significantly less than the Senate's expansion of $6.5 million and the Governor's $8.5 million. The House also differs with the Senate and Governor budgets regarding the in-home Personal Care Services (PCS) program. The Senate and Governor sought to eliminate the program, which provides assistance to seniors with everyday activities like cooking and bathing, and replace it with a program focusing only on those "with the most intense needs". Conversely, the House wishes to keep the program intact but find $34.5 million in savings from "independent assessments" of caseloads intended to root out unnecessary care. Major expansions and reductions include: Expansions: $430.5 million: Further increase of General Fund appropriations to Medicaid budget to accommodate a previously unanticipated 5.6 percent expansion in newly eligible individuals $14.2 million: Additional funding to increase enrollment in the AIDS Drug Assistance Program $3.3 million: To expand enrollment in the NC Health Choice program $1.6 million: Additional state funding for rural hospital operations and maintenance Reductions: $489.8 million: Itemized as a reduction in state spending because it is expected the federal government will replace the state spending through an extension of a federal matching fund program enacted in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for six months $79.4 million: expected savings in Medicare part D through federal funding ARRA $34.5 million: Reduction to Personal Care Services due to "independent assessments" designed to eliminate unnecessary care. $23.6 million: Replaces state funded child care subsidies with federal Temporary and Needy Family (TANF) emergency contingency funding $28 million: Savings desired from "care management programs" administered through Community Care Network of North Carolina (CCNC) which manages much of the Medicaid program $10 million: in expected savings by adding mental health drugs to the Preferred Drug List $41 million: in expected savings from management changes in Enhanced Mental Health Services $36 million: in expected savings through Program Integrity Initiatives to reduce fraud and waste in Medicaid

  • Gov. Perdue’s 2010-11 Budget Recommendations: Health and Human Services

    At first blush, the Governor’s Health and Human Services (HHS) budget recommendations give the appearance of a net $386 million in reductions to the 2010-11 spending plan approved in last year’s biennial budget bill.

  • Patient, Doctor, and Government – Who Decides?

    Last week, Congress enacted a nearly $1 trillion health care program – claiming it would reduce the cost of care and even lower the deficit by more than $100 billion over the next decade. But how exactly will such a costly government program cut costs?

  • 20 Changes For 2010: Protecting Private Property

    Our Nation’s forefathers and framers of the U.S. Constitution regarded the defense of property rights as one of the few and fundamentally unchanging roles of our government. Changing regulations and ambiguous language in the state’s general statutes threaten to diminish the property rights of North Carolina residents.

  • 20 Changes For 2010: Health Care

    This year health care reform emerged as a forefront national issue. Our nation’s health care spending continues to rise and is projected to reach $3.1 trillion in 2010, amounting to 17.7 percent of GDP. Congress is considering legislation that would effectively overhaul our nation’s health care system at a staggering cost to states already struggling in the midst of a prolonged economic recession.

  • Unemployment Continues to Increase, Government Agenda Unaffected

    The economy, and jobs, was the centerpiece of President Obama’s State of the Union address last week, unfortunately not in the way many would have hoped.

  • 25 States Standing up to Obamacare – Why not North Carolina?

    Popular sentiment is that final passage of the Obamacare Frankenstein is inevitable. Reform in its near final form is far from that which was promised by the Obama administration, in that many will be forced out of their private insurance, costs will rise, care will be rationed, and millions will be left uninsured.

  • Federal Health Care “Reform” Proposal Would Add $600 Million to N.C.’s Already Strained Budget

    North Carolina’s state budget is already at the breaking point. In order to “balance” the current year’s spending plan, lawmakers grasped at a patchwork list of revenue, including more than $1 billion in state tax hikes, $1.4 billion in federal “stimulus” funds and nearly $100 million from various state “trust funds.”

  • Market, Uninsured Affected by Government-Imposed Mandates

    One major factor clearly contributing to higher health care costs is state-level mandates. These mandates, a requirement by the government, as well as laws and regulations that follow them, prevent people from purchasing health insurance across state lines – a restriction that greatly reduces choice and insurance alternatives.

  • The Arbitrary Nature of Government Health Care Reform

    Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a nearly 2,000 page health reform bill. Looking past the clear party line divide, the bill passed by a two member margin – just barely scraping by with the minimum vote the majority needed for it to now go to the U.S. Senate.

  • In Fact, Americans Are Faring Very Well

    Do people in Saudi Arabia and Costa Rica really get better medical care than Americans do? Is the federal government truly a model of administrative efficiency? Such statements don't pass the giggle test of most rational people, but they have become mantras for "ObamaCare" backers.

  • 2009 Session Legislative Recap Series: Health and Human Services

    Health care reform ranks highly among the top policy issues this year.  However, of all the reform options put forward in the debate none reflect the need for more consumer driven health care options.  What we see at the state level is an increase in spending and the expansion of inefficient and ineffective government run programs.

  • FY 2009-10 HHS Budget Recap

    The total budget appropriation of the Department of Health and Human Services in the 2009-10 budget is $5 billion, which includes $1.1 billion in federal support. The total is up from the $4.76 billion in estimated actual expenditures for last fiscal year. Legislative changes to the FY 2009-10 budget include recurring (permanent) reductions totaling $695 million and nonrecurring (one-time) reductions totaling $937 million. There was a net loss of 506 employment positions in DHHS, out of a department staff totaling more than 19,000.

  • Hands off My Health Care!

    A year ago, I never imagined that a bill proposing a massive government-run health insurance plan and threatening to dissolve the private insurance market would be making its way through Congress. Just as I never imagined government would ever have the power to mandate health insurance coverage for every individual, that a Washington bureaucrat could ever decide a doctor’s salary, or that the American people would be subsidizing abortions. Yet even more unexpectedly than this sudden threat of unchecked government expansion, I find myself a year later standing in front of hundreds of people in strong opposition.

  • Government-Run Health Care And Taxpayer-Funded Abortions

    An amendment added to the Senate health care reform bill last week would effectively force health insurance companies to enter into contracts with entities such as Planned Parenthood, who perform abortions. One of the most striking elements of this amendment is the sweeping powers it would grant the federal government.

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