The State Budget Setting Process Has Begun
By November 1st of each year, the governor must evaluate the plans, policies and programs of all departments of state government. The priorities are formulated into a financial plan and submitted to the Joint Budget Committee (JBC).
After receiving Governor Hickenlooper’s proposal earlier this month, the JBC sat down with the JBC Director for an overview of the budget request for the upcoming year (set to begin July 1, 2014 and running through June 30, 2015). This is just the beginning of the budget setting process. The JBC will begin working on a briefing with each of the state departments which will include an oral and written presentation. In these briefings, members of the JBC are able to have a discussion about each of the department’s programs, operations and funding needs.   
By the start of the legislative session on January 8, 2014, the JBC should have a good sense of the priorities and is ready to begin the process of developing the Long Bill (the state’s budget for the upcoming year). 
Overview of the Governor’s Budget Proposal for FY2014-15
Some of the items Governor Hickenlooper is proposing outside healthcare include the following items. 
  • Increase the General Fund reserve. Currently the reserve is set at 5% and will fund the state for about 10 days. Increasing to the proposed 6.5% should fund the state for about 24 days. 
  • Pay back cash funds borrowed during the economic downtown, as well as during the flooding and wildfire disasters.
  • Increase funding for K-12 education by 3.4% (adding an additional $223 per pupil).
  • Increase funding for higher education by 15.5% (adding an additional $101.8 million, $40 million of which is an increase for financial aid).
Some of the key proposals from the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing include an increase in funds or one time expenditures for the following items.
  • State and federal funds for a total Medicaid enrollment of 967,681 clients, an increase of 19% (primarily due to the Medicaid expansion for adults).
  • Funds to assist Medicaid providers with adopting electronic health record (EHR) systems and with connecting to Colorado’s Health Information Exchange (HIE) network.
  • Enhanced federal matching funds for eligibility determination activities (such as incentives for counties for improvement in application processing and fund Medical Assistance sites).
  • Increase Medicaid provider reimbursement rates by 1.5% (not an across-the-board increase).  
  •  Funds for a new project designed to address access and utilization issues associated with specialty care. 
CRHC will be monitoring the development of the budget closely and updates will be disseminated as the process proceeds. Please send any questions or comments to Alicia Haywood, Policy and Advocacy Manager. 
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