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Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - 6:19am

Leaders Back Deal's Medicaid Plan

Georgia's top-ranking legislative leaders have backed a plan by Gov. Nathan Deal to preserve some $450 million in federal Medicaid funding.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and House Speaker David Ralston effectively endorsed a plan Wednesday that would empower the state Board of Community Health to establish assessments on hospitals.

Those assessments would then be used to generate federal financing for the health care system.

The assessments would replace a tax that is scheduled to expire at the end of June.

A Senate committee voted Tuesday to support Deal's plan.

Ralston called the plan fair during a forum hosted by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

Cagle said the funding cuts required if the tax went away would be "devastating."