Outman highlights DHHS subcommittee budget priorities

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Rick Outman on Friday announced the priorities being taken up by his subcommittee as the budget process continues moving forward.

“The state budget has never been affected like it has by COVID-19,” said Outman, R-Six Lakes. “We cut a lot of spending from the budget in our recommendations as a way to tighten our belts and live within our means as we look toward the future.”

One of the largest priorities included in the subcommittee recommendations is the wage increase for direct care workers.

The governor recommended $360 million to permanently maintain the $2 per hour wage increase for direct care workers. This would include direct care workers who provide services for vulnerable individuals needing an array of services, including behavioral health services, skilled nursing care, Medicaid adult home help support, assistance from MIChoice program providers, and home visiting services.

The Senate increased this funding to support a permanent wage increase of $2.35 per hour for direct care workers and expand the eligible employees to include adult foster care workers and those working in supportive employment. The Senate proposal would also fund a $2 per hour increase for front-line workers employed by child-caring institutions.

“I think these folks have earned this increase and then some for the very important work they do to support some of our state’s most vulnerable populations,” Outman said.

The subcommittee also approved additional funding for local health departments to maintain their ongoing efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other highlights in the recommendations announced Thursday afternoon include a 10% increase in reimbursement rates for private duty nurses who serve the state’s Medicaid population; funding for nursing homes to address lost revenue from reduced bed occupancy during the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic; a rate increase for residential foster care providers to help meet more stringent standards in order to receive federal funding; and $1.2 billion to fund a significant increase in the food assistance caseload — which came entirely from federal funding.

“Similar to other subcommittee budgets, we’re largely focused on getting our state back to normal, getting our finances together, and working to continue our resurgence from COVID-19,” Outman said.

###