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Senate Budget Writers Hear From State's Largest Agency

Paige Sutherland/NHPR
DHHS Commissioner Jeff Meyers tells Senate lawmakers areas he'd wish there'd be more funding in the next state budget.

The State’s Department of Health and Human Services made its pitch to Senate budget writers this Friday on how much of the state’s next two-year spending plan should go to them.

The Department of Health and Human Services is the state’s biggest and most costly agency. It covers Medicaid and mental health programs, as well as services for substance abuse and developmental disabilities.

Commissioner Jeff Meyers has a lot of funding to fight for and he knows his demands won’t always be met.

“In a perfect world I would ask for a lot more money than I think I am going to get this year but we are going to do everything we can with the money we do get to allocate that in a reasonable and rational way to address as many needs as we can,” Meyers told the committee.

Meyers has requested more dollars for developmental disabilities services, another mobile crisis team for mental health services and he applauded the Governor’s proposed funding increases for substance abuse treatment and workforce development. 

Officials for New Hampshire Hospital, the state's acute psychiatric facility, also asked for more money, specifically to fund nine nursing positions Gov. Chris Sununu removed in his budget proposal earlier this year. CEO Bob MacLeod told the committee at the time those positions were vacant but not due to need but rather problems with filling them.

“We are constantly looking for confident, appropriate, suitable for psychiatric services registered nurses – it continues to be a work in progress,” MacLeod told the committee.

The Senate is currently looking at a proposal to add more beds at the N.H. Hospital. On average 45 people a day are waiting for care there. 

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