This week Secretary Lanier Cansler addressed the House Appropriation Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. Here is a brief report from that meeting.
On Tuesday, April 21, 2009 Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Lanier Cansler addressed the members of the House Health and Human Services Subcommittee regarding the Department’s concerns over the Senate budget proposal.
Secretary Cansler expressed the following concerns. The Senate budget eliminates all positions that had not been filled in the past six months. Only 5% of the total HHS budget funds positions. 95% of the HHS budget is directed at services. The 60% of the 5% of positions eliminated are in state facilities.
Secretary Cansler stated that if we truly think about the elimination of these vacant positions we would see a significant impact on the structure of our state facilities. He also brought to the attention of the membership that our state pay structure is still not competitive enough. The example that he gave to the members of the committee was with the hiring of engineers and architects. Due to the lack of competitive salary offers we are having difficulty in attracting the quality of architect sand engineers that we require.
An additional concern was with the MMIS reductions. Secretary Cansler stated that in the previous legislative session the legislature directed the Department to make the MMIS system their top priority. Secretary Cansler agreed with this directive but stated that by cutting the budget we are dramatically affecting the implementation of the MMIS system. The Senate budget, according to Secretary Cansler would effectively shut the program down.
Overall Secretary Cansler expressed his concern to members of the House Health and Human Services appropriation subcommittee that the Senate budget would restrict management flexibility at the Department. The example that he presented was the Senate’s budget line of 23 million dollars for management flexibility. Secretary Cansler stated “at first I thought this was a good thing. But in reality they want another 22 million dollars in cuts in administrative costs. I can get it any where I want but those administrative costs would be in staff positions.”
On the reduction of Community Support hours to eight hours a week, as proposed by the Senate budget, Secretary Cansler pointed out that DMA estimates that we would not come near the mark of the savings stated in the Senate budget.
Secretary Cansler requested that the House HHS Appropriations subcommittee work with the Department to effectively craft a budget.