From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Promoting partnership with the Idaho Legislature through the department’s annual budget request

April 22, 2022
DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

Making progress toward Strategic Goal 4: Strengthen the public’s trust and confidence in the Department of Health and Welfare

No matter what the weather looks like in Idaho’s ever-changing economic climate, the department is committed to providing services to help Idahoans live their best lives. Our resources – employees, money, and physical assets such as buildings – are the lifeblood necessary to accomplish our mission to strengthen the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans.

One of the strategic initiatives the Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) has been working on over the past two years is improving our financial planning and budget oversight activities. The budget preparation work helps the leadership team answer detailed questions from the Legislature each year. Many budget requests are directly related to the work described in the DHW Strategic Plan.

With the legislative session now finished, there are many areas of work the department has now been given the go-ahead to begin or continue. Below are a few of the highlights from the recently approved budget and how they support the work we do.

Strategic Goal 1: Ensure affordable, available healthcare that works

  • Access to funds to develop the Healthy Connections Value Care program. This program will reward Medicaid providers for keeping participants healthy while containing medical costs. This program is estimated to save about $30 million for the state.
  • Provider rate increases for many services covered under Medicaid mean that healthcare providers can continue to provide Medicaid services at a rate of payment appropriate for today’s economic climate.
  • Funding to develop and build a modernized claims and processing data system called a Medicaid Management Information System. The modernized system will help the Medicaid program improve transparency, efficiency, access, and cost reduction strategies.

Strategic Goal 2: Protect children, youth, and vulnerable adults

  • An increase in the monthly reimbursement paid to foster families.
  • Funds for additional in-home case workers.
  • A targeted change in employee compensation for child welfare workers.
  • Additional funding for crisis bed staffing at Southwest Idaho Treatment Center (SWITC).
  • Targeted change in employee compensation for SWITC employees.
  • Funding for community mental health activities based on Idaho Behavioral Health Council recommendations.
  • Funding for the 9-8-8 crisis line, which will provide access to emergency behavioral health services to Idahoans experiencing a behavioral health crisis.
  • Community behavioral health clinic startup grants for three certified community behavioral health clinics. These clinics will serve anyone in need of care, including people with serious mental illness, serious emotional disturbance, long-term chronic addiction, mild or moderate mental illness, substance use disorders, and complex health profiles.
  • Additional funding for the prevention of substance use disorders.
  • Funding for children's psychiatric residential treatment grants.

Strategic Goal 3: Help Idahoans become as healthy and self-sufficient as possible

  • Funding to support work to address health disparities in communities around the state. This work includes factors such as poverty, unemployment, education, housing, social support, and the physical environment, and access to care.

Strategic Goal 4: Strengthen the public’s trust and confidence in the Department of Health and Welfare

  • Funding for software and IT cloud modernization.
  • Funding to modernize the background check system to a web-based check system like those used in 14 other states will improve customer service and program efficiency.

The DHW budget development process is a tool used to work with the Legislature by highlighting the high value and quality of work performed by DHW staff, and to encourage their support and partnership. You can stay updated on developments of these projects and more with each year’s new DHW Strategic Plan.

I hope you have a safe and healthy weekend.