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DHSS asks for slight bump in FY2020 budget request

The state Dept. of Health and Social Services is seeking a slight budget increase for fiscal year 2020.

DHSS’ FY2020 budget request basically covers the growth in the programs like Medicaid and disability services.

Secretary Kara Odom Walker is seeking about $1.27 billion. That’s a 6 percent increase in general revenue over last year. She’s also requesting a 1 percent, or nearly $12 million, bump in discretionary spending.

Odom Walker said her budget ask focuses on essential services. But there are increases in certain categories including the state’s response to opioid epidemic.

“Which will compliment available funding and additional resources that have supplied by the federal government," she said. We’re very fortunate that the federal government has given us more funding than we’ve requested or had in the past.”

Delaware is receiving fewer federal dollars for health insurance for low-income children, known as CHIP. Odom Walker is asking for $3.2 million in state money to replace a 11.5 percent drop in federal funding to that program.

Congress reduced CHIP funding to states as part of its efforts to weaken the Affordable Care Act. The enhanced federal match rate drops from 23 percent to 11.5 percent in 2020, then drops to zero.

Odom Walker said it was a bad compromise for Delaware.

“It means the state is now responsible for a greater share and so we need to ask for additional funding to have the full amount necessary to administer the CHIP program.”

She is also advocating for the state to offer adults dental coverage through Medicaid and continue raising wages for disability support workers.

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