Today Governor Bev Perdue released her recommended adjustments for North Carolina’s 2010-2011 budget.
In her letter to the General Assembly she stated that her budget “closes the $1.2 billion budget gap which results from lower than anticipated revenues and growth in entitlement requirements. This gap is closed by implementing over $950 million in spending reductions and utilizing $550 million of additional federal Medicaid funds. It prudently earmarks $100 million to replenish the state’s Rainy Day Fund.”
The Governor’s budget does not include any new taxes. To offset the cuts the budget maximizes all federal funding programs such as ARRA and increased federal Medicaid funding.
So what does this mean to families and people with developmental disabilities in our state who are currently struggling with accessing and retaining needed services?
Lets take a look at the positives of this budget first. Last year the General Assembly in a last minute decision cut $40 million dollars in state funded money that supports community based services. Governor Perdue’s budget restores that funding by appropriating $23 million dollars from the general fund and then adding to that $17 million in TANF ARRA monies to make up the full cut.
Governor Perdue also appropriated $12 million to increase local in-patient bed capacity to continue the development of local crisis response and her budget appropriated $534,795 thousand dollars to support training of direct care staff and front line leaders in our residential facilities.
So where are our concerns? Although there are no cuts to core Medicaid services for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities there are reductions and changes in Medicaid policy that do affect our community. Some of the adjustments affect durable medical equipment specifically high-end orthotics and prosthetics. Other adjustments are to the authorization process for adult physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and respite therapy. In addition there is an adjustment to service for adult dental under Medicaid. We are currently researching the scope of these changes and we will update this blog with more information once we have it.
What is clear about Governor Bev Perdue’s budget is that she did protect the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services from any additional deep cuts. Secretary of DHHS Lanier Cansler and the governor’s staff heard the messages from families and advocates across our state. They understood that any additional cuts to core services would devastate an already fragile support system and they acted prudently to avoid additional reductions.