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FY14 Budget Testimony: Department of Health Care Finance

April 11, 2013

Children’s Law Center executive director Judith Sandalow testified before the DC Council’s Committee on Health at the budget hearing for the Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF). Read a summary below, or her full written testimony (PDF) as submitted to the committee.

DHCF oversees Medicaid in the District, and nearly all of Children’s Law Center’s young clients are among the city’s 92,000 Medicaid recipients. “A properly functioning Medicaid system is not only vital for ensureing the health of DC’s children,” Sandalow testified, “but it is also the backbone of our early intervention, mental health, and child welfare systems – providing the services that ensure children reach developmental milestones, aid their academic achievement, and reduce their stay in foster care.” While DCHF’s budget for fiscal year 2014 has been increased in the mayor’s proposal, the budget alloted for Children’s Health Services has not been increased.

DHCF must also ensure pediaticians screen children for mental health needs, as required by law; work with the Department of Mental Health to bill Medicaid for other services for children; and complete a project that will allow behavioral health providers to bill for communications with other professionals necessary to treat children.

Additionally, as DHCF transitions to new managed care organizations (MCOs), the agency must ensure these MCOs will provide the best care possible to DC’s children. Changes to the MCO contracts could significantly improve the fragmented children’s mental health system.