On July 7, the Conference Committee lowered state budget line items– including DDS — due to the continued uncertainty of state revenues. On July 17, Governor Charlie Baker vetoed an additional $320 million on top of the legislature’s reduction, including a cut of more than $7 million from the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) budget. The impact of these reductions means uncertainty for many people. These decisions were also affected by the continued uncertainty caused by Capitol Hill policy makers. Although we believe that the legislature will override the Governor’s vetoes, we don’t know for certain and, of course, will advocate for further dollars given the needs of people who are served by the Department of Developmental Disabilities.
The Arc appreciates the minimal trimming of the line items that we have strongly advocated for, such as Turning 22 and Family Support.
On the MassHealth side, the budget does not protect the Adult Foster-Family Care (AFC) program. The slash will significantly affect services for this cost-effective LTSS (long term supports and services) program. The cuts of 6% and 3.7% must be absorbed in the provider’s delivery of services, not impact the caregiver stipend. This effectively increases the reduction, doubling it in many cases. We do expect legislative support in the fall to address the funding, and support ongoing negotiations regarding the relevance of the present regulations to mental conditions. The Senate is hosting a discussion on long term care in the near future in which The Arc will participate.
This compromise budget does not include the specific MassHealth reforms that were presented by the Governor in June. MassHealth reforms are being negotiated between the Governor and the Legislature at the present time and possibly into the fall.
To see the detailed dollar amounts per line item, please go here. Stay tuned for more updates and for our strategy ahead.