BOSTON—The House of Representatives voted yesterday to include a number of amendments to improve public health practices throughout the Commonwealth, as well as measures to keep youth safe and healthy.
The House Ways and Means Committee’s FY15 budget for Public Health and Health and Human Services accounts makes strategic investments in critical services. This budget provides the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and the Department of Public Health with the resources necessary to ensure that their offices, bureaus, and programs are fully operational and able to safeguard and improve the health and quality of life of Massachusetts residents.
Overall, the FY15 budget makes direct appropriations for DPH totaling $572 million, making increases in support of the Department’s core functions, including increases in the Critical Operations account, Bureau of Health Care Safety & Quality, Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, and the State Lab & Communicable Disease Control account.
This budget also supports integral programs, including suicide prevention and intervention, youth-at-risk matching grants, community health centers, dental health services, and community violence prevention and support services.
The FY15 budget also establishes several new initiatives including, the Massachusetts Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention, the expansion of the Nasal Narcan Bystander First Responder Pilot Project, the creation of a chronic care coordination state plan, and a Hepatitis needs assessment and screening test program.
The House budget adds $43.6 million in spending to support hospitals, and makes increases in funding for several key areas of Health and Human Services. It makes 2% increases in funding levels for increased hospital inflationary rates, increased rates for Medicaid managed care plans, and Care Plus plans.
The budget also increases rates for the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership and inpatient and outpatient rates for Disproportionate Share Hospitals, and invests substantial funding for the Delivery System Transformation Initiative Services.
Additional programs that received increased funding include the meal delivery service through the Elder Nutrition Program, the Stanley Street Treatment Center and Resource Center, which provides domestic violence services for elders.
Representative Sánchez also advocated for increased funding for programs for youth employment and safety. The conference budget secured $9 million in funding for The YouthWorks Teen Job Program, which helps fund the salaries of teens in high-risk neighborhoods for summer jobs in the government and non-profit sectors.
“The YouthWorks program is essential for young people to support themselves and their families, as well as keep them off the streets”, said Sánchez, “I am proud to work with my colleagues in supporting this valuable resource”.
In addition, Representative Sánchez advocated for increased funding of the Shannon Anti-Violence Grant program, which helps to fund police gang suppression programs in 27 cities and towns for at-risk youth. This program received an increase in $2 million through the budget process.
Representative Sánchez cosponsored an amendment with Representative Balser of Newton for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, which provides non-criminal legal advice and representation for low income populations. The MLAC received an increase in state funding by $2 million, bringing the total amount of spending up to $15 million.