Eye On Boise

JFAC sets CAT fund budget, lauds board for keeping costs from growing more

The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee this morning voted unanimously, 20-0, to set a $36.5 million budget for next year for the Catastrophic Health Care program, the program that pays the rest of the cost for indigent medical care after counties pay the first $11,000 for each case. Compared to last year's original appropriation, that looks like a 63.4 percent increase, but in reality, it's only a 3.12 percent increase over this year's spending level, because for several years, the CAT fund has been underfunded initially, then boosted the following year by a supplemental appropriation to cover the rest of the costs.

This year's budget bill, proposed by Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley, reflects the full cost for next year, up from $35.4 million this year. "If I might take just a second and really congratulate the CAT board managers," Wood said. "They have done an admirable job in controlling costs, and that's why you're only seeing an actual increase of expenditures of 3.12 percent year-over-year."

JFAC's budget-setting today also includes public health districts, medical boards, the Division of Human Resources, PERSI, the Commission on the Arts, and supplemental appropriations including several for Health & Welfare.  Some of the bigger decisions coming up, according to JFAC's tentative budget-setting schedule, include higher ed budgets next Tuesday; public schools and corrections a week from Monday; and Medicaid March 9.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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