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NC Lawmakers Look For Spending Cuts

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RALEIGH — State lawmakers should have a budget deal within the next two weeks. That's the prediction of House Speaker Jim Black.

The target is $100 million in "additional" cuts to the unfinished state budget. Those cuts will fall heavily in Health and Human Services, but two earlier targets have escaped the axe.

Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Hospital in Raleigh will stay open after lawmakers decided not to follow a senate recommendation to close the state's oldest mental health facility. The committee charged with cutting the state budget by another $100 million also passed over schools for the deaf in Wilson and Morganton.

The casualties of further budget cutting include Medicaid.

Doctors and health care professionals will see smaller reimbursements. Patients will see higher co-payments for services and prescriptions drugs due to the cuts

A coalition that works for better health access believes the cuts will make it harder to get medical care. Adam Searing of the North Carolina Health Access coalition says the health insurance program for poor children is also taking a hit.

"The negative effect we are seeing is this budget stalemate means the program cannot operate correctly. That means that children are leaving the program everyday and we are not getting the children that need health insurance onto the program," says Searing.

Other cuts are being made in education, justice, public safety and other government services.

Governor Easley has forced lawmakers to look for additional cuts because he has removed millions in unspent Hurricane Floyd Money that lawmakers had wanted to borrow.


Fred Taylor, Reporter
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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