Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary Linda Seemeyer submitted her agency’s budget request to Governor Walker on September 15, 2016. The request asks for a total of $455.5 million in additional general purpose revenue (GPR). In her cover letter, Secretary Seemeyer points out that the funding increases in the budget request are limited to standard cost to continue re-estimates of entitlement programs and operations at their seven direct care facilities. Here are a few highlights from the request:
- Medicaid continues to be the largest driver of the increase. DHS projects the program will require an additional $452 million GPR to operate based on projections. This request is down from the $650 million needed last biennium.
- DHS requested $4 million in additional GPR for SeniorCare. SeniorCare, Wisconsin’s well-known SeniorCare program, provides prescription drug assistance to Wisconsin’s seniors.
- The increased cost of non-food expenditures at mental health and developmental disability centers in Wisconsin will require $3.7 million GPR in 2017-2019. The request covers the increased costs of medical supplies, prescription drugs, clothing and other supplies.
- DHS requested $2 million GPR for the FoodShare Employment and Training Program in fiscal year 2019. This program provides education, skills or work experience to participants to promote self-sufficiency. The expenditures in this program are expected to exceed the base appropriation since the program began in 2015.
- DHS seeks another $3.7 million GPR to fully fund costs for outpatient competency examinations, conditional and supervised release, and treatment to competency programs. This will support the work the agency and its contracts provide to perform competency-to-stand trial examinations for criminal defendants referred by the court on an inpatient or outpatient basis.
- The department reduced GPR by $2 million in the 2017-2019 budget request for Wisconsin Funeral and Cemetery Aids. This program reimburses funeral homes and cemeteries for the costs for funeral and burial services for Medicaid and W-2 participants. This change reflects three policy changes in the 2015-2017 state budget to reduce DHS’s liability for providing reimbursements.
- DHS has also requested a minimal decrease of GPR funding and statutory language changes to allow registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, psychologists, and resident and non-resident physicians who hold permanent appointments in a state agency to work up to 1040 hours in a second position in a separate state agency. Current law limits earnings in a separate state agency position to $12,000 annually. This will allow doctors and limited term employees of the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics to practices in other facilities who wish to utilize their services.