During the FAC Legislative Conference last week in Volusia County, the Health & Human Services Policy Committee met to adopt policy positions for the 2014 Legislative Session and select its top priorities.  Many items that have long been part of the HHS platform remain in the legislative package, although the committee considered and approved a handful of new items, including support for minimum regulatory standards for sober homes/recovery residences as well as supporting efforts to steer veterans who are eligible for federal health care benefits into the appropriate programs.  Additionally, recognizing the significant changes to the county-state Medicaid cost sharing arrangement that passed last session, the committee adopted an entirely new statement related to the county share of cost for Medicaid; specifically, the language stipulates that FAC will continue to monitor the arrangement and other programs designed to control Medicaid costs, while also considering possible future alternative arrangements.  The statement also recognizes and supports the County Medicaid Workgroup’s efforts to evaluate and propose an alternative distribution formula by next summer, and generally opposes any state efforts to shift additional Medicaid costs to the counties.

After a lengthy discussion, the committee selected the following items as 2014 priorities:

  1. Homelessness: SUPPORT developing a dedicated state funding source for homeless programs. SUPPORT legislation that streamlines current state statutes relating to homelessness and associated programs. SUPPORT the implementation of discharge protocols and/or procedures for hospitals and correctional facilities when releasing homeless persons. SUPPORT the development of strategies that would allow local governments to work with the state and federal government to serve target populations: the chronically homeless, veterans, and families and children, with particular emphasis on children aging out of the foster care system. SUPPORT continued coordination with the state's homeless planning council, specifically as it develops policies in support of the new Federal Strategic Plan to End Homelessness. SUPPORT efforts to extend tax credits to businesses that employ the homeless.
  2. County Health Departments (CHDs): SUPPORT maintaining state general revenue funding for CHDs, and OPPOSE any state reductions to the CHD Trust Funds. SUPPORT efforts to enable CHDs to transition to managed care under the Statewide Medicaid Managed Care Program without impacting service capacity. SUPPORT maintaining a coordinated system of CHDs that is centrally housed within the Department of Health (DOH). SUPPORT preserving the ability of CHDs to provide primary care and direct patient care services, particularly in communities without adequate substitutes or alternative providers for these services
  3. Behavioral Health System: SUPPORT appropriate funding for core mental health and substance abuse services. SUPPORT continued efforts to work through Medicaid reform initiatives to ensure that persons with substance abuse and mental health treatment needs are appropriately served. SUPPORT efforts to increase supportive housing, employment and education initiatives for people with behavioral health issues and/or disabilities.

The committee recommended the Homelessness statement as its top priority to the Legislative Executive Committee.  For more information on any HHS policy statements or related bills, please contact Susan Harbin.