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Opening Statement of Councilmember David Grosso, Member

Committee on Health Budget Oversight Hearing on


Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, Department of Health Care
Finance, United Medical Center, and United Medical Center Board
March 26, 2019

Thank you Chairperson Gray and thank you to all of the witnesses here today to testify
regarding the FY20 budget for the Department of Healthcare Finance, the Deputy Mayor for
Health and Human Services, and United Medical Center.

As I stated during performance oversight, we are facing significant health disparities East of
the River, an opioid epidemic, one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country, the
closure of critical hospitals services and facilities, and more.

While the FY20 budget makes a number of important investments, others are paltry in light of
the enormous need. For example, the Department of Health invests $150,000 to support a
study of OB/GYN services in Wards 5, 7, and 8 and another one-time enhancement of $500,000
to support the Second Annual Maternal and Infant Health Summit, by "continuing to bring
public awareness and interest to the critical issue of maternal and infant health and the
District's approach to ensuring the health of women, babies, and families."

These are certainly worthwhile endeavors, but what was the purpose of the first summit if not
to equip us with strategies and best practices? I had hoped we would have evolved beyond
studies and raising awareness.

We do not need to continue studying what we know, and what we know is that the rate at
which women—African-American women in particular—are dying in, or immediately after child
birth, is unacceptably high in our city. We need to identify evidence-based solutions and target
resources accordingly.

Similarly, the FY20 budget includes a $6.1M increase to expand school-based mental health
services, which while an improvement, does nothing to transform our schools into
trauma-informed environments where all school personnel have the training they need.

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Further, while DBH received significant federal funding to address the opioid epidemic, I'm
concerned—based on recent past experience—that these funds will not be directed for their
intended purpose and thus we'll continue to see opioid related deaths and overdoses increase.

This budget also reflects a $30M partially recurring increase to support United Medical Center's
operational needs—bringing the District's total investment to $40M. How will these funds be
targeted? What improvements should the community expect as a result of this increased
investment?

These are just a few of the questions I have pertaining to the next steps for United Medical
Center and the construction of the sorely needed new East End facility.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the announcement of Mr. Turnage as the
permanent Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, while continuing his duties as the
Director of the Department of Healthcare Finance.

I have no doubt that Mr. Turnage is fully capable of permanently serving in dual capacities.
Certainly, there are incredible benefits to this new arrangement; however, I worry that the
budget, which appears to include funding for a mere 2 new FTEs within DMHHS, is insufficient
to enable Director Turnage to be as nimble as will be necessary for someone tasked with
running two distinct shops.

Unfortunately, I am unable to stay for the entirety of today's hearing; however, I plan to
follow-up with Director Turnage to get answers to the specific questions I've raised and to
provide clarity on the host of issues that will inevitably be discussed today.

I want to thank you Mr. Chairman once again for all of your work to improve the city's health
care system and I want to thank all of the witnesses for your testimony, insight, and
commitment to resolving the many critical issues our city faces. I look forward to working with
you all throughout this budget process.

Thank you.

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