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The "bizarre" three-headed health and human services budget

Some lawmakers already have noted the difficulty of dealing with a House budget that has been split in half. Now, take the states health and human services budget, which has been split into three parts.

There's the Health and Human Services/Health Care Appropriations Committee, which oversees the budget for the Agency for Health Care Administration; the Health and Human Services/Healthy Seniors Appropriations Committee, which determines the budget for the Department of Elder Affairs and the Department of Veterans Affairs; and the Health and Human Services/Human Services Appropriations Committee, which oversees the Department of Health, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities and the Department of Children and Families.

But after a day of negotiations at least one third of the three-pronged committee has wrapped up its talks on the budget. But some members on the Health and Human Services/Healthy Seniors Appropriations Committee say just because the line items line up, doesn't mean they're happy with the budget.

Committee members in both chambers and both parties point to longer waiting lists and cuts to community care, home care and feeding programs for the elderly as reasons to ask for a larger allocation.

"Even though the lines match up, that doesn't mean very much to me," said Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston.

Some also have said one of the major obstacles has been the three-headed monster that is health and human services appropriations process.

"They have three different human services appropriations committee meetings," Rich said, of the House set-up. "The money is in a silo, we don't operate that way. We have one health and human services appropriations committee, so we can move money around from one area to another, depending on what we think is the highest priority and where the greatest need is. We can't do this the way this is structured...It's a bizarre process."