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Senate Targets Medicaid And Mental Health For Cuts

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TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) – Hospitals and mental-health treatment and care for thousands of people with debilitating illnesses are among the targets of a new Florida Senate budget proposal that would cut at least $1 billion from the Florida Department of Health & Human Services.

According to the News Service of Florida, the new bill includes 10 percent Medicaid rate cuts for hospitals and 5 percent cuts for nursing homes. It would also eliminate funding for adults who need outpatient mental health and substance abuse services.

The bill would stop paying hospital and drug bills in the Medically Needy program, which is for people who have severe medical problems but don’t qualify for Medicaid, according to the News Service of Florida.

Mental health funding came to the forefront after the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. But, the new bill would only continue paying for “crisis beds,” used for emergency inpatient mental health treatment.

“We may have crisis beds, but (with the outpatient cuts), we have no place to discharge them after the crisis,” said Karen Koch of the Florida Council for Community Mental Health.

The bottom line number of cuts in the HHS budget is projected to be roughly $1.5 billion. The House is expected to release its HHS budget on Tuesday.

The House version is expected to keep the money for the Medically Needy program, according to the News Service of Florida.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service Of Florida contributed to this report.)

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