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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Reforms to medical indigency program wouldn’t replace state’s catastrophic health care fund

As lawmakers questioned state Health & Welfare Director Dick Armstrong this morning about his overview of the department’s budget request for next year, Sen. Roy Lacey, D-Pocatello, asked if Armstrong’s proposal about a new medical-homes system would replace the state’s Catastrophic Health Care Fund. Armstrong smiled. “No, it doesn’t replace the CAT fund, I’m glad you asked,” he told Lacey. “The CAT fund is a separate appropriation that you make that is made completely separate from Health & Welfare. There has been a small appropriation to Health & Welfare for the administrative side of doing work around the CAT fund. … So it’s just that administrative piece that we’re talking about. And we’re asking you to allow us to reconfigure it from just being indigency based, to being health policy based. So it’s just that little administrative portion of our budget that we want to redesign.”

The CAT fund is part of a system in which counties pay the unpaid catastrophic medical bills of patients who can't pay their bills in five years, and above $11,000 per case, the state fund steps in. That system is funded entirely with local property tax money and state general funds.

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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