Health care workers and mental health top priorities of Beshear’s budget proposal

In his third budget preview Wednesday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear laid out his plan for health care spending in the next two-year state budget.

The governor has been holding press conferences ahead of his Budget Address Thursday evening where he has been detailing different parts of his budget proposal each day. He has already discussed his plans for education spending and funding for infrastructure, tourism, and economic development.

Beshear said healthcare is more important than ever especially as we have faced the COVID-19 pandemic and the state is now experiencing a major workforce shortage in the profession and more mental health assistance is needed.

His spending proposals for this area include:

  • Fully funds the state’s Medicaid program and Medicaid expansion
  • $6 million in each year to increase nursing scholarships to $3,000 per semester, double the current maximum award, as the state faces a critical workforce shortage in nursing
  • Student loan forgiveness program for nurses or nursing facility members up to $15,000
  • $2 million in federal ARPA funds to be spent on a marketing and outreach program to attract people to the nursing profession
  • $400 million in ARPA funds for hero bonuses to frontline heroes including nurses
  • $150 million annually to nursing homes to maintain $29 per diem reimbursement
  • $36 million through 2024 for the 60 local health departments across the state to help with services and staffing
  • Funding for a new federal crisis support line effective in July 2022 to make it easier for people to get help when struggling with their mental health
  • $3.4 million in fiscal year 2023 and $9.4 million in 2024 for increased staffing at community mental health centers across the state
  • $1.26 million in each year for a Pediatric Research Trust Fund focused on cancer in children
  • A 34% funding increase to domestic violence centers, rape crisis centers, and child advocacy centers
  • Increased funding for senior care and children in foster care who cannot be placed in a family setting

Stay tuned to The Bottom Line for more budget updates as the governor as the governor releases his full budget priorities and the legislature continues discussions as the House already filed their budget.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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