During this difficult budget year, Legal Aid is pleased that the Department of Health Care Finance has proposed a budget that does not place enrollment caps on the city's Medicaid and Alliance programs, and that continues to fund important optional Medicaid services, especially mental health and substance abuse services for adults. These are policies that other states have implemented and we commend DC for maintaining its commitment to providing access to health care. Moreover, the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. health reform, means that the District of Columbia will save money by increasing access to Medicaid (funded jointly by the District and federal governments) for individuals who are currently receiving Alliance benefits that are funded entirely by the District.
With Medicaid covering more residents, however, the District will also need more Medicaid providers. Yet the Mayor’s proposed budget reduces reimbursement rates to Medicaid providers, which will make it more difficult to recruit additional providers to the city’s Medicaid network. The Mayor also proposed reduced funding for language access services, services that will be important as more immigrants who lawfully reside in the U.S. are transitioned to Medicaid and DC Healthy Families. Legal Aid delivered this testimony at the Committee on Health’s budget hearing for the Department of Health Care Finance, and urged the council to raise revenue to restore these cuts, and others, to the District’s safety net.