Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Senate Bill 82 and House Bill 4400 on Wednesday which finalizes the $70 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 state budget. The bills allocated $31.7 billion to the Health and Human Services budget — which is around $237 million less than FY 2021.
Steve Angelotti, associate director of Human Services at the Senate Fiscal Agency, says this is mainly a “continuation budget”, which continues to fund currently implemented programs and funds some add-ons of special programs. He says most of the larger health initiatives are “at the margins” and will likely pass this fall as supplemental budget bills, due to their lack of development for the looming Oct. 1 start of FY 2022.
“The state still has a lot of money to decide what to do with, and I think discussions about more large-scale things are going to be put off — as we realized things were too complicated — to get the base budget done. In the coming months, we will start looking at what to do with the surplus of money.”
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Michigan currently has a budget surplus of around $1.8 billion. Angelotti says this could grow to upwards of $3 billion by the end of FY 2022 — if no extra money is spent throughout the FY. The state has been in strong financial shape since late May, according to data presented at the latest Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference.
However, Angelotti says the remainder of this legislative session will focus on how to spend this surplus and will focus on one-time funding to kick-start new programs and to help with physical and social health care infrastructure.
Angelotti says these major budgetary decisions will be happening in the fall — through supplemental budget bills — before the 2022 election begins and legislators depart from office. With the FY 2023 budget still within this legislature’s term, Angelotti says budget negotiations become more challenging closer to elections, which will lead to “large scale” budget items to pass before then.
Despite categorizing it as a “continuation budget,” Angelotti says the FY 2022 budget did include some new funding for expanded infant home visiting programs, raises for direct health care workers, program expansion to provide alternatives — like receiving care at home or in a community setting — to nursing home care, and funding to combat health disparities. The funding includes:
- $415 million to permanently raise wages by $2.35/hour for direct care workers who care for the elderly.
- $19.1 million to expand the MiChoice program to provide an extra 1,000 slots for alternate methods of nursing home care.
- $8.4 million to combat health disparities by expanding community-based navigator services and data collection and sharing to improve health outcomes.
- $7.4 million to expand the Infant Home Visiting program for at-risk families with infants born with substance exposure.
- $6.7 million to cover the cost of treatment for over 400 adults with sickle cell disease, which disproportionately affects African-American people.
In response to the sickle cell disease funding, Dr. Wanda Whitten-Shurney, CEO and medical director of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America — Michigan Chapter (SCDAAMI), says:
“The SCDAAMI thanks Gov. Whitmer for her leadership in the fight to address health care disparities … This much needed increase in funding will be instrumental in helping to improve the quality of life for patients across the state.”
Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy, says:
“This bipartisan budget shows that as we continue to weather this COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a lot of common ground our leaders can find for the greater good of the state … There are many positives in today’s budget, and we hope that this bipartisanship and spirit of compromise will continue as the legislature and Governor continue to hammer out an agreement in the coming months on how — and where — to spend the billions of dollars in federal funding the state currently has to work with.”