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Senate panel fast-tracks hospital tax over protest
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ATLANTA (AP) — Gov. Nathan Deal and Senate leaders have fast-tracked a proposal to shore up the state Medicaid program without requiring lawmakers to vote on a direct tax.

That's the idea behind a Medicaid financing proposal that cleared a Senate committee Tuesday afternoon. The issue is how to handle a hospital industry tax that is expiring at the end of the current budget year.

The levy is actually an assessment on hospitals' net patient revenue. Many lawmakers don't want to vote on anything that can be called a tax at campaign time. But they also don't want to preside over steep cuts to the state's health care system.

The committee vote sets up a potential vote by the full Senate just days after the General Assembly opened its annual session.