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Wisconsin State Budget Update

Tuesday, February 10, 2015   (0 Comments)
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Wisconsin State Budget Update 

In a brief, 25-minute budget address to the State Legislature on February 3, Gov. Scott Walker outlined his two-year, $68 billion spending plan for the state. In an effort to close a growing state budget deficit, Walker's proposal would reduce overall state spending, consolidate numerous state agency operations, and make significant cuts to the University of Wisconsin System.

The linked Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article provides a good treetop overview of Walker's budget. You can also read the Governor's Budget in Brief by clicking here.

The budget bill has been introduced in the Republican-controlled Legislature as Assembly Bill 21 and Senate Bill 21. State lawmakers will spend the next 4-5 months reshaping Walker's budget proposal before passing a budget and sending it back to his desk for veto review and final approval.

While we are still in the process of reading and analyzing Walker's budget bill, to date, we have identified the following items that may be of interest to the Wisconsin Public Health Association (WPHA) and the Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards (WALHDAB):

  • The Governor's budget proposal does not reduce funding for any of the following public health programs funded with state General Purpose Revenue:
    • Well-woman program
    • Cancer control and prevention
    • Statewide poison control program
    • Lead-poisoning services
    • Reducing fetal and infant mortality
    • Women's health block grant
    • Community health services
    • Tobacco use control
  • Retain funding ($6 million over the biennium) for workplace wellness grants.
  • Consolidate all food safety, recreational facility, lodging and food protection activities into the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, creating efficiencies in regulation of these programs and reducing consumer confusion by assigning oversight to one agency.
  • Transfer the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, and restructures funding for the program.
  • Expand the Family Care program statewide. Transition the program to an outcome-based model providing long-term care, primary care and acute care services; create operational efficiencies for managed care organizations; and streamline operations in the Department of Health and Services.
  • Modify Medicaid coverage for Wisconsin's Childless Adult population by requiring DHS to seek a waiver from the federal Department of Health and Human Services to impose monthly premiums for all enrolled childless adults and additional premiums for behaviors which increase an individual's health risks. Under the proposal, enrollment for childless adults will be for a maximum of 48 months.
  • Expand the settings in which immunizations may be provided for Medicaid beneficiaries to include pharmacies.
  • Expand Medicaid coverage to the treatment portion of residential substance abuse treatment to ensure individuals with substance abuse disorders receive the appropriate level of care in the most appropriate setting.
  • Expand access to pediatric and adult emergency dental services by creating a Medicaid pilot program in Brown, Polk and Racine counties.
  • Fully fund the FoodShare Employment and Training program to provide able-bodied adults with education, skills and work experience necessary to obtain employment and become self-sufficient.
  • Request waivers from the federal government to test able-bodied adults without dependents on FoodShare and Medicaid for illegal drugs. This would provide them treatment and assistance, so they can get back into the workforce and off of public assistance.
  • Strengthen the oversight of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program by providing $50,000 PR in each year for data operations for the program and transferring the program to the Controlled Substances Board.
  • Provide funding to assist counties with creating robust crisis services programs pairing law enforcement with mental health professionals to create a best practice model.
  • Streamline the mental health funding in Wisconsin by consolidating the funds into community aids to ensure flexibility and create efficiencies.
  • Transfer the oversight of tattooing, body piercing and tanning from DHS to the Department of Financial Institutions and Professional Standards.

Additional updates on key budget policies and provisions, and how they may impact WALHDAB and WPHA, will be provided as the in-depth review of the budget bill continues.

Submitted by Michael Welsh, WALHDAB and WPHA lobbyist.

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