Iowa human services won't be hit hard by sequestration, director tells lawmakers

But counties could still feel the impact of withheld funds

James Q. Lynch
Published: January 31 2013 | 8:30 am - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 10:47 am in
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Iowa human services programs wouldn’t be hit as hard as some others, but counties might feel the impact if the federal government withholds funds already appropriated.

Department of Human Services Director Chuck Palmer told the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee Jan. 30 that sequestration – the term for the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts if Congress fails to reach a budget agreement – would cost the department about $3 million.

Many DHS program are exempt. Among them is Medicaid, child support enforcement, adoption and foster care assistance and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

The impact would be felt in the Child Care Development Fund -- $1.3 million, Social Services Block Grant -- $$948,000, Promoting Safe and Stable Families and Child Welfare Services -- $326,000, and Mental Health Block Grant --$213,000.

Noting the “fragility” of the federal budget, Palmer noted that reductions to TANF and elimination of the Social Services Block Grant have been discussed.

He briefly addressed the proposed expansion of Medicaid to cover as many as 150,000 more Iowans. Now, 400,000 children, adults, seniors and disabled Iowans are enrolled in Medicaid. The subcommittee is scheduled to discuss Medicaid at a future meeting.

Palmer reported the governor included $7.8 million of general funds in fiscal 2014 budget. However, the waiver for IowaCare expires Dec. 31, 2013. The federal government has indicated it may consider applications to extend the program.

The $160 million program -- $8.7 million in state general funds -- covers about 63,500 Iowans, Palmer said.

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