The Mississippi Senate voted Thursday on a House Medicaid bill, approving it 33 to 19, but the Senate removed all of the House language, including a proposal to increase the cigarette tax by 50 cents per pack, and inserted provisions from the bill it passed earlier in the session.
Sen. Alan Nunnelee, of Tupelo, said the early vote on the House bill will allow negotiators to begin work on a compromise that would extend benefits to the optional Poverty Level Aged and Disabled category of Medicaid and cut costs within the program.
Medicaid faces a $268 million shortfall for the fiscal year that ends June 30.
Both the House and Senate plans reduce some Medicaid services, including hospital stays and emergency room visits. Neither plan would cover the entire Medicaid budget shortfall this year.
That would leave Medicaid director Dr. Warren Jones and Gov. Haley Barbour to make cuts in the program.