CONTACT: Rich Harris, 860-524-7313

March 6, 2009              

            Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced that her Administration has submitted testimony backing her budget recommendations concerning public health – legislation that would save millions of dollars in taxpayer money while streamlining state government and making public health programs more effective.

             Senate Bill 847, An Act Concerning the Governor’s Budget Recommendations Regarding Public Health, is being heard today in the Legislature’s Public Health Committee. Governor Rell’s bill will save $3.3 million – and avoid an additional $11 million in capital costs – by closing Cedarcrest Hospital and moving the patients there now to Connecticut Valley Hospital. The bill also saves more than $5 million over the next two fiscal years by reorganizing local departments of health into regional agencies.

             Under the Governor’s bill, additional savings could be achieved by qualifying the medications that Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services in-patients receive for reimbursement under Part D of the federal Medicaid program. The Governor’s plan also restructures the current pre-trial diversion program for first-time drug and alcohol offenders so that participants who fail to comply with the rules of the programs are not repeatedly allowed to re-enroll – a situation that diminishes the credibility of the classes.

             “My goal in preparing a state budget to deal with these extremely difficult economic times has been to not only make government smaller and less expensive but to make it more effective and more efficient,” Governor Rell said. “We need facilities like Connecticut Valley Hospital – but we may not need both CVH and Cedarcrest. Area health departments service vitally important needs – but having dozens of them performing the same functions in the numerous cities and towns that dot Connecticut is a major duplication of effort.

             “In the same way, if we can maximize the amount of federal revenue that we receive by making pharmacy costs for DMHAS patients reimbursable under Medicaid, we should do it,” the Governor said. “And while there is no question that first-time offenders should have alternatives such as the pre-trial programs, they must be effective and there must be consequences for those who would take those important lessons lightly.”

             Other features of the Governor’s public health budget bill: 

  • The bill changes the way that the salaries for the state’s Chief Medical Examiner and Deputy Chief Medical Examiner are set. Rather than having the Commission on Medicolegal Investigations set salaries for the two officials, the Commission would recommend a salary to the Office of Policy and Management for review and approval, thus ensuring any salary adjustments are part of the budget process.
  • The bill creates a comprehensive loan repayment assistance program for primary care physicians and health care educators. This would help combat the shortage of both professions in the state.

  - 30 -