Now for some positive budget news as the legislature works through budget negotiations: On July 5, the Department of Health Services (DHS) provided the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) members an updated status of the state’s Medicaid program, projecting the program will end the fiscal year with a $325 million General Purpose Revenue (GPR) balance. The balance is $5 million GPR less than what was projected in March by the department, but is still on target for what was assumed in the 2017-19 budget.
In her letter to the committee, DHS Secretary Linda Seemeyer stated that this rare circumstance of such a large Medicaid balance is due to several “one-time factors” including slower than expected enrollment growth, an improved federal matching rate, and less growth in the managed care capitation rates due to “improved data and rate setting methodologies.”
In response to this rosy projection, JFC co-chairs Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) and Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) issued a statement praising the surplus, declaring “it’s a testament to responsible and careful budgeting.” The co-chairs went on to state that Wisconsin’s approach to cover everyone living in poverty without taking the Affordable Care Act expansion funds should be looked upon by Congress as a model for reform.
JFC voted on DHS’ budget in late May, finishing up one of the largest budget items. The remaining big-ticket items – K-12 education, transportation and taxes, remain in the final list of issues yet to be acted upon by the committee.