Deal may be near on hospital taxes

Though it may face opposition from the governor, Mississippi lawmakers negotiating a spending plan for the coming fiscal year said Saturday they have reached an agreement in principle on a key point – a hospital tax hike to help pay for Medicaid.

Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Hob Bryan, D-Amory, said the draft legislation is “far from a finished product.”

“We want input from as many people as we can get,” he said.

Michael Bailey, the Mississippi Hospital Association’s chief financial officer, characterized the plan as “a bill that we feel like everyone can live with.”

But the plan is likely to run afoul of Gov. Haley Barbour, who has objected to protecting hospitals from future cuts.

“We have to keep intact the current rules about Medicaid as they relate to savings,” Barbour, a Republican, told reporters Friday. “We can’t let that end up causing a gigantic deficit.”

Clarion-Ledger
6/21/9

From Twitter, Snowden reports Sunday morning:

snowlaw: “House and Senate budget negotiators are scheduled to meet again at 5 p.m. Sunday. If there really is a deal, we should know after then.”
&
“When it comes to a state budget deal, the “fat lady” doesn’t begin to sing until we hear from the “big three” — McCoy, Bryant and Barbour.”

From The Daily Journal

Accord reached for taxes on hospitals

Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Natchez, another key House negotiator, said what Dedeaux and Bryan signed is “an expression of an agreement…At the very least it is a basis starting point.”

The House, Senate and Gov. Haley Barbour have been unable to agree on a budget to fund government operations for the new fiscal year, which starts July 1.

In the agreement, Dedeaux said, “Everybody comes out a winner.”

“The state gets additional money for the budget from the hospital revenue assessment,” he said. “The hospitals in return receive some assurances that they will be protected from further cuts.”