House Democrats: Making the case for moving more funding to key health programs

03/27/2014 09:38 PM

House Democrats laid out a strong case Thursday night to move money within the Health and Family Service Cabinet to provide more funding for a therapeutic foster care program for children with severe problems and a guardianship program.

Rep. Jimmie Lee, D-Elizabethtown, passionately argued during Thursday night’s conference committee to move money from within the cabinet to increase funding for the therapeutic foster care program that removes troubled young people from institution and places them into specialized foster care homes.

Lee said it costs the state less to do that — about $85 a day for therapeutic foster care compared to $109 to institutionalize. And he said the state can maximize federal matching funds.

Senate Republicans weren’t initially sold, saying they needed to find money to apply to other places in the state’s bottom line. But Lee got some back-up in the form of a text message from Republican Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville and chairwoman of the Senate’s Health and Welfare Committee.

“I just got a text from Sen. Denton,” Senate President Robert Stivers announced to the conference committee. “And she said, ‘he’s probably right,’” referring to Lee.

Lee made a similar case when talking about the Senate’s version of the budget to Pure Politics earlier this week:

Lee also argued for moving $1 million a year into the Department of Community Based Services in order to hire more people to serve as court-appointed guardians for people who become wards of the state. Currently, Lee said, guardians have as many as 90 people for whom they are responsible for making financial, legal and medical decisions.

That, Lee said, could get Kentucky in trouble.


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