- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Republican-led Iowa House approved a $1.84 billion spending plan for state health and human services departments on Wednesday, offering less funding than Gov. Terry Branstad or the Democratic-controlled Senate.

In a 56-40 vote, the House approved the plan. The House and the Senate, which approved a $1.9 billion spending plan, will now have to work out a compromise deal for the budget bill that includes funding for Medicaid, public health programs and veterans.

“This is a good bill,” Rep. Dave Heaton, R-Mount Pleasant, said. “It will have a positive impact on the lives of thousands of Iowans.”

But Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, called the budget “not adequate” to protect needy residents.

The House plan includes a strategy backed by Branstad and the Department of Human Services that would keep two state-run mental health facilities open through Dec. 15. Gov. Terry Branstad removed funding for the facilities in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant in his budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins in July. The latest proposal extends funding for a few months, but would then switch service to private care beginning in January. Senate Democrats are trying to restore funding for the facilities using mostly federal grant dollars.

Under the House plan, Branstad would have to continue to sign off on payments for Medicaid-funded abortions. That policy, developed in a compromise health care deal by lawmakers two years ago, effectively halted Medicaid payments for abortion in Iowa because medical providers stopped submitting claims. Senate Democrats and Branstad are seeking to end the practice.

Republican House members also want to change the funding source for a family planning program, in an effort to block abortion providers from participating. Democrats oppose the shift.

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