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Committee on Health's FY24 Budget Investments and Priorities

April 26, 2023

                                                                                                           Committee on Health’s FY24 Budget and Investment Priorities


Today, the Committee on Health approved its recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2024 Local Budget Act and Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Support Act. The Committee held eight public hearings for the agencies under its purview this March and April to inform its work. Now more than ever, the District government needs to strategically deploy our resources to protect and improve residents’ health, especially for the most vulnerable among us who have been, and in many cases continue to be, so deeply affected by COVID-19.

Perhaps the most-used buzzword in budget season is “balance.” We balance the numbers, balance policy priorities, and balance the trade-offs. In a challenging budget year, the Committee on Health’s proposed budget report not only balances prior funding commitments but makes real, new investments in improving the health of all District residents.

For Fiscal Year 2024, the Committee recommends strategic investments focused on: improving access to critical health care services; increasing support for mental and behavioral health, including substance abuse treatment; strengthening the public health workforce; improving perinatal and children’s health; and addressing key social determinants of health.

The Committee’s proposed budget makes critical investments that:

Improve Access to Critical Health Care and Services

  • Approves a one-year advancement investment in Cedar Hill Medical Center in the amount of $10,000,000 to account for inflationary increases and supply chain delays of medical equipment
  • Provides to $1,690,000 implement the Expanding Access to Fertility Treatment Amendment Act of 2023, which would expand Medicaid and Alliance coverage for the diagnosis and medication treatment of infertility and fund the study of expanding coverage to IVF and fertility preservation services
  • Contributes to critical animal rescue and animal control services for the District by restoring $2,000,000 for the Animal Care and Control contract
  • Approves $300,000 of the Mayor’s one-time enhancement for senior dental services
  • Ensures individuals with HIV/AIDS or cancer have stable housing and appropriate medical care by restoring a $250,000 grant to Joseph’s House to provide nursing care and housing support to individuals critically ill with HIV/AIDS or cancer
  • Accepts a transfer from the Committee on Transportation and the Environment of $170,000 to require dementia training for direct care workers, implementing the Dementia Training for Direct Care Workers Act of 2019.

Increase Support for Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse Treatment

  • Addresses the gap in access to behavioral health services by providing $325,000 for the School-Based Behavioral Health Student Peer Educator Pilot Amendment Act of 2023
  • Invests $200,000 and provides an additional $400,000, for a total enhancement of $600,000 for the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Services Targeted Outreach Pilot Act of 2023 that pilots the effectiveness of an influx of direct support, relationship development, and resource brokering for individuals in need of substance abuse and behavioral health services at three locations in Wards 1, 5, and 7
  • Addresses pivotal staffing shortages by designating $100,000 for retention and hiring bonuses to attract and retain qualified staff for the Children and Adolescent Mobile Psychiatric Service (ChAMPS) staff
  • Enhances academic support, youth development, health and wellness, and family engagement in Ward 8 by transferring $100,000 to the Committee on Recreation, Libraries, and Youth Affairs for a grant to Horton’s Kids through the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Strengthen the Public Health Workforce

  • Increases the pipeline of talented healthcare professionals in the District by allocating $1,419,000 to fund the High Need Healthcare Career Scholarship and Health Professional Loan Repayment Program Amendment Act of 2022, thereby creating a High Need Healthcare Career Scholarship and Supports program and adding one FTE to implement the program
  • Enhances the licensing process for healthcare professionals by restoring 2.25 FTEs to the Health Licensing Professional Boards Division at DC Health
  • Increases critical food safety inspections for restaurants, cafeterias, and other food establishments in the District by restoring one FTE to the Food Safety Division at DC Health
  • Increases opportunities for small food entrepreneurs by funding the Street Vendor Advancement Amendment Act of 2023. Two new FTEs at DC Health will create and enforce a new permit for Microenterprise Home Kitchens for small businesses making prepared food in their homes.

Improve Perinatal and Children’s Health

  • Funds evidence-based home visiting for low-income, Medicaid eligible, first-time mothers through a grant of $225,000 to Department of Health Care Finance
  • Increases distribution of diapers, formula, and other essential supplies for infants by investing $400,000 in recurring funds as a grant to the DC Diaper Bank
  • Ensures more consistent staffing at School Health Suites by restoring $2,000,000 for the Children’s School Services grant to implement a new staffing model and address the high vacancy rate for school nurses
  • Enhances healthy meals and nutrition education in schools by transferring $822,367 to the Committee of the Whole for the Healthy Schools Fund at the Office of the State Superintendent for Education to be spent on school garden grants, nutrition education grants, and school cafeteria equipment and training grants.

Addresses the Social Determinants of Health

  • Restores the Council’s $375,000 one-time enhancement for the Healthy Food Access Grants at DC Health, including: $150,000 for the Healthy Corners Program; $25,000 for Home Delivered Meals; and $200,000 for Produce Plus, and accepts the Mayor’s proposed one-time enhancement of $324,066 for Joyful Food Markets
  • Encourages activity and independence for individuals living in Assisted Living Facilities and Certified Residential Facilities by allocating $269,280 for a $30 increase of personal needs allowances (PNAs) to cover personal expenses.
  • Encourages increased medical respite care for individuals experiencing homelessness by providing $55,000 to the Department of Health Care Finance to produce a report on opportunities to expand Medicaid coverage for medical respite care.
  • Helps low-income tenants remain in their homes by transferring $500,000 to the Committee on Housing to restore the Emergency Rental Assistance Program
  • Restores critical funding for public libraries, which serve as cultural and resource centers for District residents, by restoring $433,410 for the DC Public Library Revenue Generating Fund for featured author, musical, and other cultural events as well as exhibitions primarily at the MLK Library thus attracting individuals downtown, and $629,442 for custodial maintenance for DC Public Library for regular cleaning, pest control, and landscape services at all branch locations
  • Enhances Access to Justice Initiatives at Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants by transferring $350,000 to the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety for that purpose
  • Promotes public safety and modernizes traffic enforcement programs by transferring $50,000 to the Committee on Public Works and Operations to fund self-releasing boots, bringing the total to $900,000 for this program.

The full Committee report and recommendations can be viewed here.

Next week, the full Council will meet to consider the recommendations from all of the Committees. In addition to maintaining these investments outlined here, I also have a list of priorities I’m hoping to convince my colleagues to further support. The work continues...