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BOISE -- Two Republican senators want to eliminate Idaho's fund that helps pay the medical bills of indigent people.

Sens. Steve Thayn of Emmett and Bob Nonini of Coeur d'Alene pitched the legislation on Monday.

They sold it to lawmakers on the Health and Welfare Committee as a better way to treat low-income people without insurance than the existing Catastrophic Care Fund.

Now, there will be a full hearing on the measure.

Currently, state and county taxpayers combine to cover indigent people's medical bills.

The cost has doubled since 2002, to $53 million annually.

According to the senators' measure, it would transfer a portion of the money to community health centers, to help patients buy medication, get non-emergency medical services -- and to provide volunteers at the centers with medical malpractice insurance.

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