Apr. 11, 2023

Acting Secretary Dr. Val Arkoosh, along with Gloria Gilligan, Director, Office of the Budget, Kristin Ahrens, Deputy Secretary of Developmental Programs, Jennifer Smith, Deputy Secretary of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Jamie Buchenauer, Deputy Secretary of Long-term Living, Sally Kozak, Deputy Secretary of Medical Assistance Programs, Hoa Pham, Deputy Secretary of Income Maintenance, Shante’ Brown, Deputy Secretary of Child Development and Early Learning, Laval Miller-Wilson, Deputy Secretary of Child, Youth, and Families, and Stephanie Shell, Deputy Secretary of Administration, testified before the House Appropriations Committee. House Republicans focused their questions on caring for our most vulnerable while being good stewards of taxpayer dollars. This includes focusing on Program Integrity and transparency on how taxpayer dollars are spent. DHS accounts for nearly $20 billion out of a $45.8 billion spending plan, the implications of each line-item are massive in terms of reigning in our $2 billion structural deficit.

Key Takeaways

· With the COVID-19 pandemic officially over, House Republicans believe the eligibility redetermination process for Medicaid must proceed in earnest. Department officials have estimated there may be 617,000 individuals on Medicaid who are no longer eligible for the program and 598,000 who have not completed their most recent renewal.

o Individuals who are no longer eligible for Medicaid have better options with subsidized private health coverage through PENNIE and CHIP for children through the age of 18.

· House Republicans fully support expanded Program Integrity measures. This is why we have introduced several pieces of legislation, including HB 44. HB 44, by Rep. Owlett, creates the State Do Not Pay Initiative, which establishes a state database of organizations, individuals and entities which are not eligible to receive funds from a commonwealth agency. After receiving immense pushback from the previous administration on the legislation, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that DHS is participating in the federal Do Not Pay program.

· House Republicans believe the department must do more to provide transparency from budgeting decisions to payments made to Managed Care Organizations (MCOs), counties, and providers. The budget materials lacked basic information on why and where some money is proposed to be spent.

o This includes the “profit-sharing” scheme between DHS and Physical Health MCOs where an undetermined amount of money will be spent without oversight by the General Assembly to fund new and potentially duplicative welfare programs.

o Additionally, the proposed increase in the Medicaid payment for dental services was tucked within a line-item and not noted in the proposed budget.

· Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen SNAP balances grow as federal benefits were increased. DHS should follow through on the six 2013 Office of Inspector General recommendations to reduce the possibility of fraud by individuals with high SNAP balances.

Notable Q&A

Rep. Flood questions DHS on high balance EBT cards and what can be done to ensure there is not abuse in SNAP benefits.

Rep. Warner asks DHS how often it is checking basic eligibility for Medicaid such as residency and death records.

Rep. Ecker questions DHS on the MCO “profit-sharing” being used to fund programs to improve social determinants of health.

Watch Full Hearing