Medicaid Plan in Re-Negotiations

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Lawmakers will head back to the negotiating table on Medicaid after the House voted to recommit a bill designed to keep the program financially solvent the rest of this budget year.

Rep. Jim Evans, of Jackson, made the motion to recommit, saying the plan falls short of protecting thousands of people who will lose coverage Jan. 1, 2006. The Senate adopted the conference report.

House Public Health Committee Chairman Steve Holland was one of the six lawmakers who agreed to the cost-cutting compromise. He said even though he signed the plan, he worries it will harm some of the state's poorest and most vulnerable citizens because it ends coverage on Jan. 1, 2006.

About 63,000 people in the optional category for the Poverty Level Aged and Disabled, or PLAD, would be affected.

Lawmakers voted in 2004 to eliminate the PLAD category to save money, but health advocates sued the state just before the Oct. 1 cutoff deadline, and a federal judge issued a court order that has kept PLAD coverage in place.