Lawmakers have set the budget for the state Catastrophic Health Care Program for next year at $35 million, almost exactly what the state portion of the county-state program is budgeted for this year. Rep. Thyra Stevenson, R-Lewiston, said she and Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, didn’t think the forecasted increased caseload costs of $1.04 million would materialize next year, in part because up to 40 percent of those who now turn to the county medical indigency and state CAT fund program apparently are eligible to purchase health insurance through the state health insurance exchange.
Legislation that died in a Senate committee yesterday would have excluded anyone who qualifies for the exchange from the indigency and CAT fund program, starting in 2016. Sen. Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, who serves on the state CAT fund board, noted that last year the fund turned back $3 million of its budgeted amount to the state, while the year before, it required an additional $6 million supplemental appropriation above its budgeted amount.
With the budget set at $1.04 million less than the governor’s recommendation, JFAC essentially saved $1 million in general funds by the move. However, if the CAT fund’s costs do run higher, a supplemental appropriation could be needed to cover the bills.