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House cuts to hospitals lighter than Senate’s

The House and Senate budget proposals include wide differences in health and human services.

Overall, the House would spend $29.2 billion in the six agencies included in the health- and human-services budget, about $800 million more than the Senate proposal.

Most of the money goes to the Agency for Health Care Administration to pay for the Medicaid program. The House's AHCA budget proposal totals $21.7 billion, while the Senate would spend about $21.2 billion.

Both proposals would rely heavily on cutting hospital and nursing-home Medicaid rates to balance the budgets. For example, the Senate would cut hospital rates by about $438 million, while the House would reduce them about $298 million.

A major difference in the proposals centers on the Senate's plan to dramatically shrink the Medically Needy program, which provides care for people who have catastrophic illnesses but do not meet the regular qualifications for Medicaid.

The Senate would stop paying hospital and drug costs for Medically Needy patients in April 2012, though it would continue paying for physician services. That move would save about $230 million next fiscal year.

In another major difference, the House would eliminate $50 million for biomedical research conducted at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and other facilities. The Senate would continue funding the research, though it would change how the money is distributed.