Senate Subcommittee No. 3 Convenes Another Marathon Hearing, CHEAC/HOAC Budget Request Presented

On Thursday, the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee No. 3 on Health and Human Services convened a day-long hearing on budget items falling under the purview of the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Senator Richard Pan chaired the meeting coming off the heels of chairing an eventful and lengthy Senate Health Committee hearing that went very late into Wednesday night. Several issues of interest to CHEAC were heard, including a our joint CHEAC/HOAC budget request for $50 million ongoing General Fund for local health department communicable disease infrastructure. Highlights are provided below:

CHEAC/HOAC Budget Request. Dr. Rob Oldham from Placer County presented the joint budget request, highlighting the challenges local health departments face in both preventing and controlling communicable diseases. Senator Pan raised questions regarding how funds would be distributed and offered his thoughts around exploring a mutual aid grant structure. CHEAC expressed a willingness to engage in further discussions.

The LAO provided brief remarks, noting that it is generally difficult to determine the appropriate level of funding for public health. The LAO further noted that current state and local public health funding is very categorical and not flexible, making it particularly challenging for public health to address localized needs; the LAO recommended that Senators keep these constraints in mind as they consider various proposals related to disease-specific funding streams.

Whole Person Care. DHCS briefly presented the Governor’s proposed one-time investment of $100 million General Fund for WPC Pilot counties to support housing and housing supportive services for individuals with mental illness experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness. DHCS noted the proposed allocation of the funding, which was released earlier this week. While CHEAC is still reviewing the proposed allocation of funding, CHEAC supports the Governor’s proposed investment into WPC.

Developmental and Trauma Screening. DHCS presented the Governor’s proposal to provide $60 million ($30m in Proposition 56 and $30m federal funds) for developmental screenings for children at nine months, 18 months, and 30 months of age, and as medically necessary and to provide $45 million ($22.5m Proposition 56 and $22.5m federal funds) to support trauma screenings for children and adults. CHEAC supports both Administration proposals.

STDs. Dr. Gil Chavez from CDPH presented the Administration’s request for $2 million ongoing funding to be provided to local health departments to prevent STDs. CDPH highlighted how funding provided to the local health jurisdictions in FY 2018-19 has been utilized. Senator Pan, recognizing $2 million is not nearly enough to address the high rates of STDs California is currently experiencing, asked the Department of Finance to examine the investment needed to bend the curve. The LAO offered to work with DOF to analyze the investment needed.  CHEAC supports this budget proposal.

End the Epidemics. Representatives of the End the Epidemics Coalition presented their budget requests for $20 million for HIV prevention services, $20 million for Hepatitis C micro elimination projects, $20 million for STD prevention, testing and treatment services, and $2 million to create an End the Epidemics Task Force to develop a statewide strategy to address HIV, Hepatitis C and STDS. Senator Pan acknowledged the challenges around STDs and expressed interest in a master strategy.

All items were held open. Meeting materials can be accessed here. A recording of the hearing can be found here.