FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Beshear outlined his budget plan to make critical investments to expand health care access and support services for Kentuckians, including fully funding the Medicaid program, on which one in three Kentuckians rely.
The Governor said the state’s recent record-breaking economic growth, with $11.2 billion in new investments and 18,000 new full-time jobs added in 2021 alone, proves Kentucky is a destination for leading global companies like Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp., GE Appliances and Amazon. His budget positions Kentucky to remain an economic leader while also expanding health care access and support services to Kentuckians across the commonwealth.
The budget announcements follow the Governor’s relaunch of kynect, Kentucky’s state-based health insurance marketplace, which makes common medical visits less costly.
Fully Funding MedicaidThe Governor’s budget fully funds the Medicaid program, on which one in three Kentuckians rely, including more than 660,000 Kentucky children. In addition, the Governor’s budget provides funding for 500 additional slots in the Michelle P. Waiver program and 100 additional slots for the Supports for Community Living waiver program.
Addressing Kentucky’s Nursing ShortageAnother priority in the Governor’s budget is to address the critical nursing shortage in Kentucky, which led the Governor to declare a State of Emergency in December 2021 followed by an Executive Order to help boost enrollment in nursing training programs.
To help recruit and retain nurses, the Governor is providing $6 million each year to increase the number of scholarships awarded to potential nurses. Current scholarships are financed by a portion of nursing licensing fees, which only supports around 150 students. The Governor’s budget doubles the maximum award from $1,500 per semester to $3,000 a semester.
Another burden many nursing students face is student loans; a hurdle that the Governor’s budget addresses head-on through a student loan forgiveness program that would begin in May 2022. The Governor’s budget would provide $5 million each year for five years to provide student loan forgiveness up to $3,000 annually for each year a nurse or nursing faculty member is employed in their position in Kentucky.
The Governor’s budget also directs $2 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) State Fiscal Recovery Funds to finance a marketing and outreach program for the nursing profession to enhance recruitment.
Nursing HomesAlso included in the Governor’s budget is funding to extend the $29 per-diem reimbursement rate increase for nursing homes, which expired on Dec. 31, 2021.
Local Health Department TransformationIn his budget, the Governor provides more than $36 million through fiscal year 2024 to transform Kentucky’s local health departments, with funds to be allocated to the 60 departments serving communities across the commonwealth. The funding will be used to help with staffing and workforce, as well as operations to deliver the programs and services Kentuckians rely on.
Investing in Mental Health ServicesThe Governor reminded Kentuckians that mental health is health care, and his budget targets two strategies to help provide support and care for those in need.
First, the Governor dedicated funding to implement the new 988 crisis support line: a three-digit number set to replace the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in July 2024. The budget dedicates $3.4 million in the fiscal year 2023 and $9.9 million in the fiscal year 2024 to phase in 170 additional staff to Kentucky’s Community Mental Health Centers to offer support 24-hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.
The second budget allocation toward mental health is funding to expand Tim’s Law to two other psychiatric hospitals in the state – Eastern State Hospital and the Appalachian Regional Hospital. State funding of $500,000 and $1 million during the two fiscal years will fund the expansion.
Kentucky Pediatric Research Trust FundTo help fuel research to find new treatments for better outcomes among Kentucky’s youth, the Governor is adding $1.25 million each year from his budget to the Kentucky Pediatric Research Trust Fund’s base funding of $2.5 million. This organization serves as an umbrella to organize all pediatric cancer research work across the commonwealth.
Protecting Children and FamiliesTo further carry out the Governor’s commitment to addressing domestic violence and child abuse, the Governor included a 34% increase in funding to Domestic Violence Centers, Rape Crisis Centers and Child Advocacy Centers.
The Governor emphasized the important role these centers play, stating, “These centers not only help during the immediate moment of need, they also help survivors overcome and go on to lead full, healthy lives. Their work is critical, and we cannot afford to overlook their services and the impact they have on our people.”
In addition, the Governor’s budget includes additional funding of $19.6 million each year to sustain and expand prevention services that work with families to mitigate issues when a child is at immediate risk of removal.
The Governor also included a 17% rate increase for residential and therapeutic foster care providers. These are organizations that serve children who require the highest quality care and aren’t yet able to be placed in a family-based setting.
Child Care AssistanceThe budget includes a $2 per child per day increase in the child care assistance program reimbursement rate. This one-time funding would use ARPA funds to continue the temporary increase through June 30, 2024.
New Office of Dementia ServicesThe Governor also acknowledged the need for more support for the 73,000 Kentuckians with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, as well as for their caregivers. To help meet this need, the Governor’s budget includes funding to help staff the new Office of Dementia Services established in 2021.
The Governor’s budget also expands funding for the Kentucky Family Caregiver Program by $1 million in each fiscal year and includes additional dollars to expand the Hart-Supported Living program by $2 million in each fiscal year.
Combating Senior HungerTo combat hunger in seniors during the pandemic, the Governor used pandemic funds to eliminate a waitlist for about 7,000 for meals. To ensure those individuals continue to receive food and support, the Governor is providing $36.2 million over the next two and a half years for an additional 49,000 meals per week, which fully meets the current needs of Kentucky’s citizens.
Caring for Kentucky’s VeteransDuring Wednesday’s budget preview, the Governor also discussed the importance of stepping up for Kentucky’s brave veterans.
The Governor is providing $200,000 each year for the Homeless Veterans program. In addition, The Governor’s budget includes $700,000 annually to increase the number of veterans benefits field representatives and nearly $300,000 each year to expand outreach.
Other priorities included in the Governor’s budget to assist veterans include funding to boost staffing at four Kentucky veterans cemeteries and money to create a permanent memorial honoring Kentucky Medal of Honor recipients at the campus of Freedoms Foundation in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
Finally, the Governor’s budget provides $1 million in the fiscal year 2024 to phase in operations at the newest state veterans center in Bowling Green.
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