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Senate Approves Medicaid Cuts

Legislation that would end the Medicaid program in 2008 and in the meantime would make cuts in the number of people who are eligible cleared the Senate Thursday. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

By a vote of 20 to 11, the Senate gave final approval to legislation that seeks to restructure the state-funded healthcare program for the poor, Medicaid.

Earlier in the week, Senators went into the wee hours of the morning debating the measure.

The proposal would end Medicaid in 2008 and set up a commission to develop a new healthcare program for the state's neediest citizens.

In the meantime, roughly 90 thousand people would become ineligible for the program.

The bill also would require more families in the children's healthcare program, CHIPS to pay premiums.

When the bill came up for a final vote Thursday, lawmakers on both sides of the issue gave emotional statements...like this one from the Senate Democratic Leader Maida Coleman.

Republicans who support the issue spoke just as passionately about the need to make fundamental changes to Medicaid.

They argue the program is so big, the state can't afford to provide quality care to all Medicaid recipients.

They say by scaling back the proram, the quality of healthcare services available through Medicaid and access to doctors will improve.

Senate President Pro Tem Mike Gibbons says the current system doesn't help the neediest in the state.

The senator from Howell is Chuck Purgason, the bill sponsor.

He says many people in his district have Medicaid cards that entitle them to services but can't find a doctor to provide their care.

Lawmakers ended the first half of their session Thursday and left for their Spring Break.

They'll return to the capitol March 29th.

And the legislation that changes Medicaid will go to the House for consideration.