House sends Senate a budget bill with many provisions dealing with health issues, several with less than Beshear proposed

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
The state House of Representatives passed a two-year state budget Thursday that includes a number of provisions for health, including many that were in Gov. Andy Beshear’s budget proposal, but with some variations in amounts and sources of money.
And the House budget has no money for retention and recruitment of nurses, nor the governor’s plan to use $400 million in federal relief money to reward “essential workers” who worked throughout the pandemic.
Another difference is that the House budget has 100 new slots, rather than Beshear’s 500, for the “Michelle P. waiver” program for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Both budgets would add 100 more slots to the Supports for Community Living waiver program for similar beneficiaries. Both programs have thousands of Kentuckians are on their waiting lists.
The budgets have huge differences in the amounts allocated for domestic-violence shelters, rape crisis centers and child-advocacy centers. Beshear proposed a 36% increase for each type of organization: $2.5 million, $1.78 million and $1.3 million, respectively, in each fiscal year. The House adds $500,000 for each category.
Another difference is that Beshear wants to fund 350 more social workers while the House budget would pay for an additional 200 .
The House budget is in House Bill 1, with a committee substitute. It passed out of committee and the full House on the same day, on an 85-8 vote. It is now in the Senate.
Here are some of the health-related provisions in the House budget.
From the Tobacco Settlement Fund:
  • $500,000 for the Kentucky Rural Mental Health, Suicide Prevention and Farm Safety Program, titled the “Raising Hope Initiative.”
  • $1.4 million in each fiscal year for substance-abuse prevention and treatment for pregnant women with a history of substance-use disorders;
  • $7 million in each fiscal year for the Health Access Nurturing Development Services Program (HANDS) for poor families with young children;
  • $900,000 in each fiscal year for the Healthy Start initiatives;
  • $900,000 in each fiscal year for early childhood mental health;
  • $900,000 in each fiscal year for early childhood oral health;
  • $2 million in each fiscal year for smoking cessation;
  • $500,000 in the first year and $493,500 in the second year for spinal-cord and head-injury research; and
  • $6.25 million in each year for cancer research and screening.
From the General Fund:
  • $93,700 each for grants to the Brain Injury Association of America, Kentucky Chapter and the Epilepsy Foundation of Kentuckiana to help veterans who have experienced brain trauma;
  • $500,000 for the Kentucky Colon Cancer Screening Program;
  • $100,000 in each fiscal year for The Hope Center of Lexington for addiction recovery;
  • $900,000 each fiscal year for The Healing Place, a Louisville recovery program;
  • $17.68 million in first fiscal year and $19 million in second fiscal year to support the costs of workforce and operation for the local health departments.
  • $12.4 million in the first fiscal year and $17.6 million in the second year to support the establishment of additional mobile crisis units and to implement the new 988 crisis support line, a three digit number set to replace the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in July 2024.
  • $7.2 million in the first year and $14.48 million in the second year for expansion of senior citizens’ meal programs (Beshear proposed to pays for this with federal relief dollars);
  • $2.5 million in each fiscal year to the Kentucky Pediatric Cancer Research Trust Fund (Beshear’s proposal provided $3.75 million in each fiscal year); and
  • $750,000 in each fiscal year for the Kentucky Poison Control Center, unless federal emergency relief funds become available;
  • $500,000 in each fiscal year for the Ovarian Cancer Screening Outreach Program at the University of Kentucky; and
  • Federal and state monies are allocated for fiscal years 2021 through 2024 to support an additional Medicaid reimbursement of $29 per day per Medicaid patient in nursing homes, which was established because of the pandemic.
  • Money is provided to support expansion of Tim’s Law to additional locations as a way to ensure statewide access. Tim’s Law allows judges to order assisted outpatient treatment for people who have been involuntarily hospitalized, aimed at stopping the revolving door of these individuals in and out of jails and state psychiatric hospitals.
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