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Monday, March 28, 2011

BARE-BONES HOUSE BUDGET MOVES FORWARD AS SENATORS LOOK TO MINIMIZE DAMAGE

Keeping their pledge to balance the 2012-13 state budget with no new taxes, the House Appropriations Committee passed a $164.5 billion spending bill that cuts $23 billion from the current (2010-11) budget. It would cut Medicaid payment rates to physicians and providers by 10 percent. Other education, public health, and human services programs face similar devastating cuts. The budget bill is expected to be up for debate on the House floor Friday. Moving more slowly, the Senate Finance Committee is searching for new revenue sources that might allow it to mitigate the damage. A subcommittee led by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville) added $4.5 billion back into the health and human services budget. That panel reduced physicians’ Medicaid cuts to 1 percent and trimmed the payment reductions to hospitals and other providers to 3 percent. It also restored funding for community mental health programs and the Women’s Health Program. Keep up with all the legislative news — daily or once a week — with TMA’s Legislative News Hotline.

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