Lawmakers asked to boost "Healthy Nevada Fund" by $6.5 million this year

Rick Gunn photoState epidemiologist Dr. Randall Todd testifies Tuesday before the Task FOrce for a Healthy Nevada.

Rick Gunn photoState epidemiologist Dr. Randall Todd testifies Tuesday before the Task FOrce for a Healthy Nevada.

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Increasing demands on Senior Rx, anti-tobacco programs and health grants for children and the disabled will require another $6.5 million from the state's tobacco settlement this year.

The request would bring the total spending for those programs in fiscal 2003 to $17.9 million. It was presented to the Task Force for a Healthy Nevada on Tuesday. After review by the state Budget Division, the request will be presented to the next legislative Interim Finance Committee for final consideration.

Budget officials say the money is available in the tobacco fund maintained by the state treasurer's office.

According to support materials provided by Human Resources Director Mike Willden, rising enrollment has left the Senior Rx program an estimated $2.9 million short for the year. That program provides a prescription drug coverage program for qualified seniors. The budget addition would raise the total available for Senior Rx this fiscal year to $7.7 million.

Another $1.5 million would be added to the programs designed to reduce tobacco use by children and adults in Nevada, bringing the total budget there to nearly $4.7 million.

And $1.97 million would be added to the Children with Disabilities grants program, bringing total spending for the year there to $5.16 million.

Only $59,273 of the added funding will go to administrative costs. That money will cover increased salaries for Healthy Nevada Fund employees, travel costs required to audit the grants awarded and increases in training, rent and other costs.

The request was presented to the task force as members headed by Sen. Ray Rawson, R-Las Vegas, heard a presentation by Dr. Randall Todd of the state Health Division on how to review and determine health needs and priorities for Nevada. Rawson asked the different constituencies at the meeting to work out the top priorities within their different areas of concern so that the task force can begin the process of narrowing them down to a report for the 2003 Legislature.

He served notice that, given the short amount of time remaining before the session, the task force will probably have to work into the 2003 Legislature before it can present a final report.


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