Local Politics

DHHS offsets budget cuts by $15 million

Posted October 13, 2009

N.C. health, mental health, Medicaid generic
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— The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday it is reallocating $15 million to relieve the impact of budget cuts on the community.

The move comes a day before a coalition of mental health advocates are expected to demand Gov. Bev Perdue call a special session to take care of what they call a state of emergency.

Earlier this year, lawmakers cut DHHS funding by approximately $1.7 billion to help close a $4.6 billion state budget gap.

About $65 million to $75 million of the department's $390 million community services budget was cut.

“DHHS continues to implement reductions in light of the tough budget situation, but at the same time, we are focusing on operating the mental health care system in a more coordinated manner to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of care to North Carolina’s citizens,” Secretary Lanier Cansler said in a statement.

A DHHS spokeswoman said the move was the result of a request from Perdue to minimize the impact of budget cuts.

Opponents of the cuts have argued that thousands of people will likely see a reduction, if not an elimination, to the mental health services they receive. Thousands who provide those services could also be out of work.

Cansler said earlier Tuesday that the agency has implemented approximately a third of budget cuts for this fiscal year and that a majority of the remaining will likely occur in the next 30 to 60 days.

Anytime costs are cut by more than $1.5 billion, Cansler said, the system will be different and the people that depend on it will be affected.

"This is unprecedented with respect to the budget of DHHS. The reductions are historic," he said.

Cansler will speak about the cuts and their impacts Wednesday before a legislative oversight committee on mental health.

The department is trying to do in 90 days what would normally take 18 to 24 months, he said, and mistakes and errors are likely to occur as a result.

"The challenge we have is to try to maintain the level of services to the extent we can with the dollars we have available," he said.

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  • CestLaVie Oct 14, 2009

    Unbroken: bless your lil ole heart for being so understanding! I suppose you are unemployed so you can surf & post too??

    jjs: I was not complaining that more cuts are necessary. I'm sure most of these services are critical for those who really need them. My point is that 30+ year DHHS employees, according to rumors months ago, were to be cut. I welcomed it, but it did not happen.

  • LaLa-Land Oct 14, 2009

    I admit there needs to be an overhaul of the majority of the programs, but having family members who depend on some of the services provided, I am disappointed that, once again, the government is shutting out the people who are most dependent on others for survival. How cruel our society has become when we push into a closet those who are mentally or physically disabled. It's not all about food stamps, laziness, or race, it's about human decency and respect, or as we are seeing more and more, the lack of it.

    Some of the workers are frustrating to deal with. They become complacent over time, but there are some who truly want to help ensuring basic human dignity for those who cannot help themselves. I am saddened to see more cuts to already strained services and instead would like to see a reorganization of these services.

  • manofjustice Oct 14, 2009

    I don't worry about these types of situations. I know that all will work out just fine. I know that this recession will end soon and we will all look back on it and laugh. President Obama will see to this. Bev Purdue does not have the faith of a mustard seed. There should be no budget cutting at this time. She needs to cut her own budget for starters. Money is allocated to the wrong places. Get that straight also.

  • SkepticalGirl Oct 14, 2009

    Maximus - Who is Dr. King?

  • ContinuityMan Oct 14, 2009

    Staffing is not the main problem. The redundant entitlement programs need consolidation before there are any layoffs.

  • jjslilred Oct 14, 2009

    Eternal and Animal Lover, its not those beaurocrats that will suffer from the budgetary cuts. Its people like me, who are employed at the local level. So, before you complain that more cuts are necessary, remember, those cuts affect the people you don't see. I praise God that I and my counterparts still have a job, but that's not guarenteed by the time they finish hacking away at our programs.

  • Maximus - the - man Oct 14, 2009

    It should be MANDITORY for all the pocket stuffers retire at 20-25 years, instead they are milking the system and traveling when all STATE travel was cancelled. Is that the case Dr. King!!!!!! Hope you are enjoying Maui at the ADA on the taxpayers dime.

  • sceeter Oct 14, 2009

    I can tell that no one that has posted has actually worked - or is currently working - with the mentally ill population of this state. So, let me shine a little light where there is a lot of ignorance and darkness.

    Yes, there is mis-management of services & it is quite large. This is partly due to a system that has been in place some 30 years & of those same agencies still in existence today (which manage the funds ironically).

    A new "world order" came in 2005 and screwed the entire enchilada. It forced many with MI to go to the community for services & thus another mis-management of services arose (from managing entities that are old school).

    Many of those with MI are now at home & have no services cause smaller agencies disappear due to budget cuts. So, other agencies have to pick up the slack, they then go out of business due to further budget cuts. The one with MI, sits at home w/o service.

    The longer one with MI sits w/o proper services, the larger & closer issue grows.

  • Unbroken Oct 14, 2009

    "Eternal: You are right about bloated staff positions. I see many in my building, a part of DHHS. In the years I've been here, I see MUCH inefficiency, complacency & pure laziness on the part of many employees who spend most of their days talking & chatting & wasting time. Even I don't have plenty to do most of the time. To be sure, I'd like much more to do and would welcome it because I'm basically a workhorse..."

    "Workhorse" huh? We can start by cutting those workhorse employees who have seemingly plenty of time to surf the internet and post to discussion groups.

  • 27615 Oct 14, 2009

    I agree their budget is too big even after the cuts. The government is too big period!

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