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How Health Fares In the House FY '17 Budget

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The House Finance Committee passed the fiscal year 2017 budget late last night. It heads for a floor vote next week. As I continue to pore over the...

The House Finance Committee passed the fiscal year 2017 budget late last night. It heads for a floor vote next week. As I continue to pore over the budget documents, here’s a preliminary look at some of the highlights of health-related spending and revenues in this version, as compared to Governor Gina Raimondo’s original proposals:

  • The cigarette tax will remain at $3.75 per pack, instead of increasing to $4, as requested by the Governor.
  • A proposal to require tags on every medical marijuana plant grown by patients and caregivers remains in the budget, but the cost of those tags was significantly reduced from $150 - $350 each to just $25 per tag. That will please advocates for medical marijuana patients, who complained the originally proposed fees would be too steep for low income patients and caregivers.
  • The Finance Committee kept the $9 million proposed by the Governor to implement the federal consent decree addressing the need for more appropriate activities for people with developmental disabilities. Part of that money is slated to raise wages for people who work with the developmentally disabled.
  • Nursing homes will see a cost-of-living increase in their payment rates this year; most of that money is earmarked for raising wages for direct care workers in nursing homes.
  • Private insurers must reimburse early intervention providers – people who visit newborns and young children at risk for developmental and other problems - at rates equal to or better than the prevailing Medicaid rate for these services.
  • Hospitals have fared a bit better this fiscal year than last. The licensing fees they must pay the state will be kept about level. The amount of money they receive to compensate them for caring for patients who can’t pay will decrease a bit, but it’s thought that the increasing numbers of patients with insurance could offset this decrease.
  • Home care attendants for the elderly and disabled will be getting a boost in wages.
  • Rhode Island's health benefits exchange, HealthSource RI, should be funded with about $12 million dollars, a little more than $2 million of that coming from state funds.
  • The Executive Office of Health and Human Services comes in at about $2.4 billion dollars - about a third of the state's overall budget.
  • The Department of Children, Youth, and Families budget is down a bit, to $216 million. But part of that may be attributable to a realignment of spending priorities the department has undertaken - including rebidding service contracts and eliminating duplicate spending. I did notice that spending on children's behavioral health could be cut by about $1 million.

How Health Fares In the House FY '17 Budget
How Health Fares In the House FY '17 Budget