JFAC has opened this morning with its hearing on the Catastrophic Health Care fund, the program that pays for catastrophic medical bills for Idahoans who can't pay. "We're getting affected by the local economic conditions, because we are the safety net, as this is designed," Director Roger Christensen told lawmakers. For next year, the fund is requesting $38.2 million in state general funds, about a $2 million increase; the remainder of the roughly $60 million-a-year program is funded by local property taxpayers. In 2012, Christensen, a Bonneville County commissioner, said, counties actually spent more than the state on the program. Also this morning, JFAC is scheduled to begin its budget hearings on the mammoth state Department of Health & Welfare.
Meanwhile, both the Senate and House State Affairs Committees are scheduled to hear new rules this morning for use of the state Capitol and surrounding grounds and facilities, proposed by the state Department of Administration. The Senate panel started meeting at 8 a.m. in room WW55, and will take up the rules after hearing a presentation from the Criminal Justice Committee; a subcommittee of the House committee meets at 10 a.m. in room EW 40.