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Eye On Boise

Mental health cases have pushed spike in CAT program

JFAC hearing on CAT fund budget on Monday (Betsy Russell)
JFAC hearing on CAT fund budget on Monday (Betsy Russell)

Trends in Idaho’s catastrophic health care fund show a big jump in reported cases in 2012, CAT fund Director Roger Christensen told JFAC this morning. The new case load was 4,363 cases in fiscal year 2010, 4,590 in 2011 and 6,491 in 2012. Mental health cases were a big driver of the 2012 spike, he said.

In fiscal year 2012, the county with the highest number of new cases was Ada with 1,610; Twin Falls was second with 1,366; Canyon was third with 906; and Kootenai was fourth with 817. (Note: Earlier, lower numbers that were posted here reflected only those county cases that crossed the $11,000-per-case threshold for state funding help; those below the threshold are entirely county-paid.)

New members of JFAC have lots of questions about the program, from who defines “medically necessary” services that are covered (it’d defined in law) to why caseloads are expected to go up (temporary programs that have covered some of the cases are expiring).

Idaho’s CAT program, which is 100 percent funded by state general tax funds and county property taxes, would likely go away if Idaho exercised its option to expand its Medicaid program almost entirely with federal funds. A working group appointed by Gov. Butch Otter studied that issue over the summer and unanimously recommended the Medicaid expansion to replace the CAT program, but Otter, in his State of the State address, said there’s no deadline, and he’d like to wait until next year before any expansion to allow time for study on how to reform Idaho’s Medicaid program.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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