The Budget and Control Board today agreed to find a way to fund the year’s remaining shortfall for the Department of Health and Human Services. The agency handles Medicaid for the state and the board has approved a $222 million deficit for the year.
The governor has been critical of the agency’s shortfall since she took office. Her comment after today’s meeting was, “It happened prior to me and it will never happen again.”
Board member Senator Hugh Leatherman says the shortfall is the Legislatures’ fault. Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom, also on the five-member board, agrees:
It’s not a deficit approval. It’s recognizing that all along there’s been a funding gap for that agency. We knew a year ago, before the fiscal year started, that agency was facing a funding gap because revenues have been taken away from that agency. Its cost structure was fairly fixed because federal and state law had required that the agency provide Medicaid benefits to a very large segment of our population.
Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom says the shortfall will be covered by surplus revenues that the state has collected this year.
We collected enough surplus this month to cover the entire request that was made by that one agency. The state is in a position to be able close the funding gap and then some. The state is going to finish the year with all of its reserve accounts restored and with surplus that will be carried forward into the following year.