Bipartisan Debate Continues Over Medicaid Spending Of Tabacco Tax Money

Republicans in the Colorado statehouse said Wednesday that Democrats are rushing to restore Medicaid benefits to legal immigrants, but frustrated Republicans say the party in power is too quick in tapping into tobacco tax funds. The proposal,
which would put $2.6 million dollars in tobacco tax money into the nearly $4 million dollar program.

The legislature cut 3,500 legal immigrants from Medicaid rolls in 2003, but they never lost their free health care after an
advocacy group won a temporary stay after suing the state. The state later won an appeal of the case, but continued extended benefits for legal immigrants. That extension expired on January 1st.

The new tobacco tax revenue approved by voters last November is expected to bring in as much as $56 1/2 million dollars in 2004–2005, and more than $170 million dollars in 2005–2006.

The legislature allocates the funds from that program.

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