The Governor’s state budget proposal, released today, includes $5.8 million in rearranged funding and staff for a new Office of Health Strategy, effective July 2018, to “enhance coordination and consolidate accountability for the implementation of the state’s health care reform strategies.” The office will combine OHCA (formerly a separate agency, but now part of DPH that oversees CON applications), SIM, the new HITO (state HIT director yet to be hired) and the Office of Healthcare Advocate. The office will also take over development and administration of the APCD that has been repeatedly delayed.
The budget also returns to last year’s proposal to cut more HUSKY parents from coverage. About 10,000 HUSKY parents lost coverage last summer in previous budget cuts. The Governor is not proposing eligibility cuts for children or pregnant women.
Regarding federal plans to cut Medicaid reimbursement to states, the budget predicts that “Reductions in federal support will likely force Connecticut to limit services, to drastically cut coverage to thousands, and as a result, could shift health care provision to inappropriate and more costly venues such as hospital emergency rooms, shelters and prisons.” While federal Medicaid proposals are uncertain, the state has an internal working group assessing the threat and developing policy options.
Other proposals include:
· Funding for universal access for children to HPV vaccines (personal favorite)
· Increase in the cigarette tax to $4.35/pack
· Places a $1,000 annual cap on Medicaid adult dental care
· Reduces funding to local health departments and school-based health centers
· Adds positions at DPH to monitor and oversee health care mergers and acquisitions – health care consolidation reduces competition which raises prices and lowers consumer choice
· Adds DPH positions to create a licensing program for Urgent Care Centers
· Reduces taxes on health insurance premiums