Medicaid Crisis Has Human Face

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Medicaid's budget shortfall isn't a theoretical problem for Senate Public Health Committee Chairman Alan Nunnelee.

The Tupelo Republican said his 15-year-old adopted brother suffers from heart disease and could be hurt if Medicaid has to suspend services in mid-March.

Nunnelee is one of six lawmakers trying to negotiate a solution to Medicaid's budget problems, both short-term and long-term.

The health care program has a $268 million shortfall for the budget year that ends June 30.

Lawmakers also are looking for ways to restrain growth in a program that has seen its budget balloon over the past several years.

Medicaid was set to run out of cash after Monday, but executive director Dr. Warren Jones said a $50 million loan will keep it operating through March 11.