HHSC releases its 2020-2021 budget request language

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission released its legislative appropriations request for the 2020-2021 fiscal years.  The baseline request is $77.3 billion in All Funds, an amount that is $200m lower than the previously approved biennial budget.  Of this, $30.2 billion is from the general fund, an amount that is $650m less than the previous biennium.

The 1358-page document outlines the spending requests from the HHSC that will be incorporated into the HHS Consolidated Budget to be published in October. That document will then go to the governor for his review and consideration ahead of finally submitting an administration budget to the legislature for consideration.

The HHSC budget covers more than 200 programs, $71 billion in biennial spending, and more than 40,000 FTEs, according to the document.

The document says that reducing waiting lists for the agencies various programs is among its highest priorities.  These “interest lists” vary in length by program, but combine to number more than 263,000 individuals across “community-based services and supports.”   These lists include 817 individuals waiting for state hospital bed capacity, and over 7,000 adults and children waiting for community-based outpatient mental health services.

Following concerns raised about Medicaid procurement, HHSC is looking to backfill staffing and support to better manage those elements of its operational responsibility.

“While HHSC has begun to address the foundational needs required to operate a compliant, transparent, accountable, and effective procurement system, the agency’s next steps are to solidify that foundation and align it with the expectation that HHSC should be a best-in-class operation when measured against public and private organizations. HHSC is also requesting funding and additional procurement and legal staff to support its contracting operations…”

Interestingly, the document notes the need for improved oversight of the agency’s managed care organization (MCO) partners.  However, it does not propose any additional funding to better meet those oversight needs.

“We continue to review our managed care oversight processes and will take any additional steps necessary to ensure MCOs meet their obligations to the people we serve.  While we do not have a specific funding request at this time, the agency will work with the Legislature to identify future needs to improve its oversight of managed care.”