Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Beshear spares some health-related funding in harsh budget

Though Gov. Steve Beshear recommended harsh, nearly across-the-board cuts in his state budget proposal yesterday, some areas relating to health were exempt.

Though the budget for Cabinet for Health and Family Services could be cut by 8.4 percent, its social service department would actually gain $21 million in the next two years. "Cabinet officials said that would allow them to hire about 300 new workers, about one-third of them front-line social workers," reports Tom Loftus of The Courier-Journal. The child welfare department has been under fire due to its handling of children who died or nearly died from child abuse.

Beshear's budget would also spare Medicaid, a $600 billion per year health plan paid for mainly by the federal government. The proposal would add $108 million in the next two years to the state's investment in the plan, which provides health care to the poor and disabled. "That's because of projected growth in the program, which already serves about 800,000 Kentuckians," Loftus reports.

The budget also protects mental-health programs, and, for the first time, adds funding for substance-abuse treatment as part of a Medicaid benefit. (Read more)

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