In response to stories of layoffs at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Brian Balfour at the Civitas Institute found that the agency has spent 12% more through December compared to the prior fiscal year. Looking closer, Medicaid spending is $261 million ahead of last year ($90 million higher in December alone). The agency has already spent 52% of its budget for the year compared to 47% for the first six months of FY2018-19. Medicaid has just $30 million less available in the current budget than in the budget bill Gov. Cooper vetoed in June—in other words the veto cannot be why DHHS is cutting contract workers.
Faster spending in July and August may have made sense in anticipation of shifting to managed care and covering the cost with previously reserved funds, but the December increase was after DHHS Sec. Mandy Cohen called it off. January numbers should be available in the next week, but these reports can only show that spending increased. DHHS still has to answer why, especially as it has started to cut contract workers and blame it on the legislative logjam. Is this a program that can handle another 600,000 people?