Core Funding Modifications Help County Health Departments Keep Pace

Core Funding from the State to local health departments has experienced significant cuts in the last 10 years, requiring local jurisdictions to fund far more than the required matching of State funds to ensure that critical community health services are being provided.

MACo Legislative Director Natasha Mehu testified on a sponsor panel alongside Dorchester County Health Officer Roger Harrell and Baltimore City Health Department Director of Legislative Affairs D’Paul Nibber in support of Senate Bill 976, “Local Health Services Funding – Modifications”, before the House Appropriations Committee on March 14, 2018.

SB 976 alters the formula for Core Funding from a general cost of living adjustment index to an index that measures medical care costs more accurately. This accounts for the fact that medical care inflation tends to rise faster than general inflation. This measure will begin to restore funding to local health departments from the State and starts on the path to full restoration of Core Funding.

From MACo Testimony:

State Core Funding for LHDs is tens of millions of dollars lower than it once was (a high of almost $70 million in FY 2008) due to state fiscal constraints, cost containment measures, and new interpretations of inflationary increases. Currently, the statutory formula sets a minimum funding level with subsequent increases based on inflation and by population growth. Counties are required to match Core Funding, however, most already over-match by providing much more than required.

While ideally, local governments would seek to restore local health funding to historic levels, SB 976’s altering of the inflationary index recognizes the growing costs of medical care being shouldered by the LHDs and leads the state one reasonable step in the right direction.”

For more on this and other legislation, follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.