by Max Brantley
Some late news that I have time only to mention in brief:
* STATE HOSPITAL, THE SAGA CONTINUES: Late this afternoon, the Department of Human Services released results on an accreditation commission's survey of the perpetually troubled State Hospital. It indicates a lengthy list of deficiencies, some in things like communication and documentation, but also some in areas related to patient safety. Comments DHS spokesperson Amy Webb:
The report confirms much of what we already knew, and we are already working on many of these issues. Some of the problems were relayed to a lack of documentation. We were accredited before this survey and we remain accredited.
* WHAT HATH THE REPUBLICAN STARVE-GOVERNMENT FEVER WROUGHT? I wrote earlier that the Republican Party's desire to impose an arbitrary 3 percent budget cut on a number of agencies and borrow from surplus to meet a Medicaid cost increase had already brought protests, including from a Republican sheriff unhappy about Crime Lab and law enforcement training cuts.
Now comes the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Family with an account of the impact of the proposed cuts in general revenue support for Medicaid, which in turn means a cut in the three-for-one federal matching money. In all, it could mean $71 million in cuts for real services to real people, either in reimbursements to people who provide care or in services to families.
DHS would have to make administrative cuts as well. To cite just one example, DHS would cut three child welfare attorney positions. According to the documents: "This loss would mean children would have to stay in foster care longer rather than returning them to their parents or having the rights of their parents terminated so that they could be adopted and placed in a permanent home. The reduction of attorneys handling foster care cases also could trigger financial penalties from the federal government for cases not being handled in a timely manner. Child welfare attorneys already have caseloads of about 120 cases each, which is twice as big as the national standard."
Fewer services, more kids in foster care, an ongoing reduction in baseline support meaning further cuts in future years? Hey, it will only hurt kids, old folks and the disabled. What's that against a future tax cut for the Repubs?
Here are details on the cut to administrative funds.
Here's the DHS summary on the impact of the deeper hit to Medicaid by a one-year patch with surplus and a reduction in baseline support.