Senate Bill 12-85 Reductions in General Fund Expenditures
Reductions in General Fund Expenditures
Senate Bill 12-85
Testimony to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee
Robert Semro, policy analyst
February 9, 2012
My name is Robert Semro, and I am a policy analyst with the Bell Policy Center. The Bell is a non-partisan, non-profit research and policy organization dedicated to expanding opportunity for all Coloradans.
The Bell Policy Center opposes Senate Bill 12-85. This bill would single-handedly roll back Medicaid reforms passed into law through House Bills 1103, 1293, 1353 and 1033 in 2009 and 2010. It automatically presumes there are no better or more viable budget alternatives to reduce state expenditures. These targeted rollbacks may very well affect some Coloradans in a far more profound and significant way than reductions in other areas of the budget. Senate Bill 85 bypasses the budget-review process and makes these decisions independently.
Existing federal law prevents Colorado from reducing Medicaid eligibility levels below those in place on March 23, 2010. Two provisions of Senate Bill 85 would roll back specific eligibility requirements that were in place before that date. In addition, rollbacks regarding advanced practice nursing and cervical cancer immunization would violate existing federal Medicaid requirements. Collectively, Senate Bill 85's provisions would put almost $100 million of federal funding at risk.
For some of the bill's roll backs, the budgetary impact would only be temporary. They would only be effective until the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented in 2014. Unless that law is fundamentally restructured, which is by no means a present certainty, those previous expansions will be not be optional in two years. State law should, and indeed must, be compatible with existing federal law.
Additionally, this legislation provides no alternatives to address the vulnerable populations that this legislation would affect or the problems they face. It merely cuts what the state spends on them. Nor does it address the cost of health issues that might result from the loss of these services either now or in the future. There were compelling reasons why these bills were passed into law in 2009 and 2010, and there are no grounds to assume those reasons are less compelling now, when the need is even greater.
There is absolutely no question that our state has and will continue to face budget issues. But as mentioned previously, Senate Bill 85 primarily reduces cash expenditures, while minimally affecting the General Fund. This legislation is at very best a blunt tool that does not adequately accommodate federal law, may create only temporary savings and may negatively affect vulnerable adults and children in Colorado. We urge you to oppose this legislation. Thank you for the opportunity to testify here today.