Georgia House proposes modest health spending increase

mlee@macon.comFebruary 8, 2013 

ATLANTA -- The Georgia House of Representatives is tweaking its $19 billion budget for the year that ends this June, proposing a little softer deal for health care that could benefit rural areas.

The state House wants to spend some $17.2 million on paying eligible private hospitals to care for indigent patients, said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Terry England, R-Auburn.

That money would go through part of the Indigent Care Trust Fund, which is meant to help low-income patients get health care and also help support rural providers.

The state appropriation would draw down enough federal matching money to bring total funding up to $51 million.

Gov. Nathan Deal proposed spending $6.8 million in state dollars, which with federal money would be a total amount of about $20 million.

The House also wants to spare the Mercer University School of Medicine part of a cut.

The House wants to spend about $20.6 million on the school; Deal proposes $20.3 million.

The Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta also gets a state grant. Both are meant to help train doctors to work in underserved urban and rural areas.

“Both of those things are initiatives of the House in prior years,” England said. “We felt like those pieces need to be restored to the point they could.”

The state Senate will soon answer with its proposals for this year’s amended spending.

The so-called big budget from the House may appear as early as next week. That will hold its proposals for spending for the fiscal year beginning this July.

The Legislature must pass both budgets by the end of the session, likely in April.

To contact writer Maggie Lee, e-mail her at mlee@macon.com.

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