A state budget oversight panel voted today to allow the state’s health-care agency to run a $100 million deficit but asked the agency to find ways to eliminate an additional $125 million budget shortfall by the end of June.
The Department of Health and Human Services told the five-member Budget and Control Board that rising Medicaid enrollment due to the Great Recession and increasing costs meant the agency would finish the year $228 million over budget, asking permission to run a deficit. The agency would run out of money to pay doctors and hospitals by the end of March if the Budget and Control Board did not allow it to run a deficit.
Agency director Anthony Keck said budget cuts will save the agency about $3 million this year. The state Senate also is considering legislation that would allow the agency to further cut its budget.
If Keck can not find a total of $125 million in cuts or savings, the Budget and Control Board will consider allowing the agency to run a larger deficit.
Health and Human Services is one of three cabinet agencies that previously had said it was spending beyond its budget for this year.
The Department of Social Services said Monday that it had erased its budget deficit.
The Department of Corrections said today it has reduced its deficit to $4.8 million. The Budget and Control Board voted to allow Corrections, which runs the state’s prisons, more time to balance its budget this year.
Gov. Nikki Haley said deficits in the cabinet agencies that report directly to her -- all of which she inherited when she took office last month -- will not be tolerated in the future.
"I want to apologize to you for having to deal with this," Haley told fellow board members. "It can't happen again. We will not have deficits under my watch."