Friday, August 20, 2010

Arc NC: Remarks from the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services

Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Mike Watson, addressed a packed room of advocates, providers, parents, and Arc chapter executives today at The Arc of North Carolina’s state conference. Deputy Secretary Watson provided the attendees with a state of the state on services for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

He opened his remarks by complimenting the hard work and dedication of the many members of The Arc of North Carolina and its chapters. He stated that many of the legislative successes including the return of the $40 million in funding for state funded services was due to their advocacy.

Watson also laid out the values that the Department of HHS and the Division of MH, DD, SAS are operating under as they move forward. Watson stated that “these values are the goals for how we act. We want to keep these values out in front of us and make sure they are translated into action”.

The values included being customer focused. Who are your customers and who are you trying to serve. To create a department and division that are anticipatory. Knowing what are the consequences of our actions and evaluating the outcomes and what can happen because of our policy decisions. The values include a division and department that is collaborative. The goal is to include interested parties in the journey and to ask the consumers, providers, advocates the important questions “what do you think” and “what is the impact”. Transparency and being more results oriented rounded out the new guide for the division and department.

Mike Watson touched on many of special provisions that were included in the budget including the utilization of the SIS tool and the waiver special provision. In addition he highlighted a special provision that addressed making CAP/MR-DD high need consumers be able to access the top tier of the CAP by addressing the need for higher levels of residential supports through re-writing the definition in the waiver.

Watson then gave the attendees the facts about what to expect in next years budget. “The stark reality is that the budget the last two years was extraordinarily difficult. The next year will be the low water mark of our funding issues.”  Mr. Watson set out the deficit in these terms, there will be a reduction in overall stimulus funding. The sales tax and the additional taxes that were part of the 2009 revenue package will sunset in 2011. There will also be a reduction in the non-recurring funding through cuts and through cuts of one time money. The overall budget deficit will be between 2 and 3 billion dollars.

In addressing the Medicaid Rate Reduction cause by not receiving the full 500 million in additional FMAP extension funding, Deputy Secretary Watson stated that “this week providers learned of a 1.35% cut in rates effective September 1. The decision the department made to start as early as possible was that if we waited till later in the year that cut would have increased to 2.7%. Whatever we put in place I can guarantee will continue next year. We would rater have a 1.35% reduction next year than a 2.7%.”

As for the managed care waiver issue, it is clear that the department and division are telling LMEs to expect and get ready for a move into the waiver environment “one way or another Medicaid will be managed”.  Watson stated that the shift to managed care waivers is a multi year process that must include competence and readiness. 

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