Fuzzy Math at DHS

Only in government could an increase of $70 million be called a “cut”, but that is what the Department of Human Services is attempting to portray with their analysis of the Health and Human Services budget proposal .

In a memo sent to the members of the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, the Department of Human Services provided their “analysis” of the impact of the budget changes in House Study Bill 661. Just as happened in the Committee meeting on Monday, there are serious issues with the veracity of the Department’s claims.

In Medicaid, the House Republican proposal increases funding $36.2 million. Annual funding is raised to $946.2 million for FY 2013, which is just $12.5 million below the Governor’s level. According to the Department, this difference of 1.3 percent will require it to implement an across the board rate cut to all Medicaid providers of 8.7 percent. That would result in a reduction in state spending of $63.1 million, not $12.5 million. Interestingly, that amount is close to the total increase the Department claims they are being shorted.

Maybe the most far-fetched projection relates to the Civil Commitment Unit for Sexual Offenders at the Cherokee MHI. The funding difference between the Governor’s budget and House Republicans differs by $13,982 or 0.16 percent. But apparently these dollars make all the difference in being able to serve these clients, because DHS says the amount would prevent them from serving the anticipated new cases. How much do they need – between $700,000 and $800,000 above the level recommended by House Republicans and the Governor.

Another interesting claim is the Department’s projection for Subsidized Adoption. The budget for this program is currently $33.1 million, which is $185,994 less than the FY 12 level. But by not providing the funds DHS deems necessary – another $3.6 million – would result in a 72 percent reduction in the subsidy paid to families. It is hard to understand how the failure to provide an increase of 11.2 produces such dramatic reductions.

Maybe the most far-fetched projection relates to the Civil Commitment Unit for Sexual Offenders at the Cherokee MHI. The funding difference between the Governor’s budget and House Republicans’ differs by $13,982 or 0.16 percent. But apparently these dollars make all the difference in being able to serve these clients, because DHS says the amount would prevent them from serving the anticipated new cases. How much do they need – between $700,000 and $800,000 above the level recommended by House Republicans and the Governor.

The Department also says the failure to provide salary annualization for the institutions would result in staff positions being held open and the potential for a reduction in capacity for facilities. It is unclear if DHS made these concerns public when Governor Branstad did not recommend any salary funds in his budget.

The accuracy of the Department’s analysis is still to be determined. During Monday’s Appropriations Committee meeting, DHS representatives asserted that the lack of increased funding for HAWK-I would result is a 41 percent reduction in the premium the state could pay to Wellmark for the insurance coverage. But a further analysis found that the correct number would be just 12 percent.

With the Health and Human Services budget bill headed to the floor, there will be continued discussions on the accuracy of the Department’s claims. Many Iowans will also continue to try and figure out just how a state agency could claim a funding increase of $70 million is a “cut.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Dansette