Senate Agrees To Medicaid Swap, Chances In House Unclear

The Senate has tentatively agreed to a plan requiring the state to assume all of the counties' Medicaid expenses within two years.

Whether the House takes up the idea is another matter.

Under the Senate bill approved 27-to-18, the state would take over 25 percent of the Medicaid expenses incurred by the counties starting October first and take full responsibility July first, 2009.

In exchange, the state would take a halfpenny of the sales tax already collected by local governments to pay for the extra Medicaid costs placed upon the state. Cities that had received some of the halfpenny tax's revenues would be reimbursed.

A final Senate vote could come Monday. Then it would go to the House, where Democratic leaders have said a Medicaid swap would have to come with a provision allowing local governments to raise additional tax revenues for school construction, roads and infrastructure. That would happen with voter approval.