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DHSS looking for an additional $80 million in next budget

Milton Pratt
Delaware Public Media

With more Delawareans on Medicaid and cases of COVID-19 continuing to rise in the First State, the Department of Health and Social Services explains its budget needs for fiscal year 2022.


DHSS says more funding is necessary to keep its services at the current levels, due in part to the pandemic.


DHSS secretary Molly Magarik says they’ve seen big jumps in Medicaid users.


“In terms of volume, due to the pandemic, Medicaid has seen growth of eight and a half percent since March of 2020. There are currently almost 255,000 people eligible for Medicaid in Delaware," said Magarik. "Under normal circumstances that number would likely be around 235,000.”


That’s why the department is asking for an additional 41 million dollars next year to support the growth of the program. Without it, they wouldn’t be able to meet the demand of Medicaid users created by the pandemic.


There were also over 20 speakers who wanted to give public comments at the hearing. Some of the concerns included providing stable funding for school based wellness centers, ensuring an equitable wage for caregivers and more support for those with disabilities.


Ray Jones Avery, the president of the Delaware chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women was among those concerned about school health care. 


“We do anticipate the demand for increased services in school based wellness centers," said Jones Avery. "And so we want to go on record as supporting the continuation of services and the expansion of services at the elementary level.”


School Based Wellness centers provide broader care to students than a nurse’s office, and are funded in part with state funds.


The department is also seeking an additional 40 million for capital projects. They’re planning to expand Delaware’s Public Health Lab, a nearly 11 million project mostly funded by federal grants.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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