Agency heads: Budget cuts too deep

Posted May 27, 2011

As the state Senate prepares to vote next week on a $19.4B budget plan, heads of state agencies said today the cuts in the proposal will affect everyday services from public safety to health care.

The Senate plan cuts more from Health and Human Services than the House plan did, coming in at around $370 million less than Gov. Bev Perdue's proposal.  DHHS Secretary Lanier Cansler said today the cut would further cost the state about $700M in federal matching funds. That adds up to a billion or so a year that won't be coming into the state's economy through the health care system, which Cansler warned will lead to "substantial job losses." 

The Senate plan would require Cansler to cut back or eliminate Medicaid services like optical and dental care and physical therapy. And Medicaid providers would see their reimbursement rate cut by 3% in the Senate plan. The House had proposed a 2% cut. Neither plan allowed for inflationary adjustment. @NCCapitol State agency heads warn about cuts

"They're getting squeezed," Cansler said of Medicaid providers. "Sooner or later, those services will start to disappear. The question is, when does the camel's back break?"

(Watch the story from tonight's 5:30 newscast at right.)

Cansler also expressed concern over the Senate's proposal to end Medicaid coverage for "over the counter" medications as of July 1st.  He says the change could end up costing money rather than saving it. 

That coverage, he said, applies only to specific drugs, "a list of a couple dozen that we have chosen over the past few years that are less expensive than either the generic or brand name - that if a physician writes a prescription for it, we will pay for it," he explained.

"And among those over-the-counter drugs is insulin for diabetics," Cansler continued. "So the elimination of that creates a number of problems." 

Public safety officials issued dire warnings, too. 

"The public will be less safe," said Crime Control and Public Safety Secretary Reuben Young. "We will lose troopers."

NC National Guard Adjutant General Greg Lusk said the cuts to Guard funding may look small in the overall budget, but they may mean cutbacks to the services the Guard provides to families of deployed Guard members. "We're going to be forced to look at whether we keep armories open," he added, though he stressed that "soldiers and airmen will respond" when called upon. 

State Emergency Management director Doug Hoell said the proposed 15.5% cut to his funding would likely have to come out of operational money. He says he's also concerned about cuts to other agencies his team partners with, like the State Highway Patrol, the National Guard, DENR, and HHS.   Cabinet secretaries news conference Web only: Cabinet members, others criticize GOP budget

"Quite frankly, I  think we did a good response on the tornadoes," Hoell said. "But hurricane season is on the horizon, and we've got to be ready for that." 

You can see the unedited video of the press conference below.  


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  • ohmygosh May 31, 2011

    Medicare doesn't cover optical and dental. Yet Medicare recipients have at least paid something into the system.

    Time we stopped pampering the laggards.

  • Rebelyell55 May 30, 2011

    Of course no one want to give up any money. The heads of agencies in NC are going to scream about it, but it's their own fault. There are posting from many inside the agencies stating the failure of leadership. The sad part is, the cuts will hurt since they will cut people who actual do the work. I hope WRAL stays on top of this so the people of NC will know what agency are not being responsible for spending.

  • ga2nc36bm May 30, 2011

    people in nc always worry about welfare or food stamp give outs to certain people maine,oregon in the top 5 for food stamps give out in 2011 so its not just a certain group theres only one group in these 2 states wake up america

  • superman May 28, 2011

    Cut funding to our welfare education system. Make the parents pay for their childs education. Taxpayers with no children should not have to carry this tax burden alone. No more deduction for dependents. Couples with children should have to pay more in taxes--certainly not less. Whoever came up with the idea of a deduction for children? The education system is the one that is breaking our budget. The more children you have--the less taxes you pay and the more money required for education. No more money for the public welfare education system.

  • bimpcc May 28, 2011

    i wonder how much the lawmakers are cutting their salary? they sure are quick to cut someone elses.

  • mcoonan May 27, 2011

    Everyone knows how top heavy it is at the SHP. Same with Probation and the POs are targeted for not doing their jobs. What the papers don't write about is how Probation Officers have huge, huge caseloads, way too big to manage. What they don't tell you is that they try to violate the criminals for noncompliance & the judges just put them back on the street. I get it that there's not enough room to house them. Then over at VocRehab they've got a director from out of state who'd worked for the State no time before she got the job over people who were career employees (and who actually gave a rat's behind about NC)She makes $45K+/year counselors with Master's degrees going door to door "marketing" their services while high school graduates are being counselors. They're supposed to be getting disabled people jobs but its not happening. Their productivity declines every year. If someone would ever let the "rank & file" speak without fear of losing their jobs you would learn some re

  • 1 awesome Dad May 27, 2011

    I say close up shop and get back to the basics. The People stood by while our leaders allowed NAFTA to erode our industries. We stood by and shook our heads when company after company went to a foreign country. Are we going to stand by and shake our heads and do nothing while 52000 + families are treated like a pack of stray dogs? Are we going to stand by and watch our children's education be compromised? How long is North Carolina going to take being slapped in the face and having nothing to show for it? I am not saying its the Democrats nor the Republicans it is a much deeper problem than that.

    Folks we dont have the money nor the jobs to pull out of this mess in a short amount of time. It is time for the illegal alien situation to be solved, the no jobs nor companies coming to NC to be solved, and it is time for spending to be controlled not eradicate public services that so many folks need.

    We should all get to every neighbor on a first name basis within site of our front doors