BOISE -- The Senate Health and Welfare Committee rejected a plan to dump the program that pays medical bills for uninsured Idaho residents.

Republican Sen. Steve Thayn asked the committee to shift money from the Catastrophic Care Fund toward community health centers instead.

The CAT fund costs the state and counties over $50 million annually.

But the committee killed the bill Tuesday, after expressing concerns about shifting funding to the centers, which aren't meant to care for the seriously injured or chronically ill.

Lawmakers also worried that with only 45 of these community health centers in Idaho, communities without such a medical facility would be left out.

There's another way Idaho could get rid of the CAT fund--expanding Medicaid eligibility.

But Idaho Gov. C.L. Butch Otter has rejected such a move.

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