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Governor creates position of health cost cutter

By Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wkar/local-wkar-886628.mp3

LANSING, MI –

Governor Granholm has signed an executive order to create an inspector general to investigate reports of waste and fraud in Medicaid and other taxpayer-financed health programs.

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The governor says hiring the inspector general is one of the things she's doing to find long-term savings in a state budget that's faced constant shortfalls. The deficit for the coming fiscal year is pegged at $1.8 billion. The governor also signed a directive this week to open state benefit plans for new employees to local governments and school districts. The new plan requires new hires to pay a bigger share of their insurance costs. But, in her weekly radio address, she says a bigger pool will help reduce premiums and co-pays.

"The more participants there are, the more we can lower the costs," she says.

The governor says cost-saving reforms are a necessary prelude to getting the public to accept new taxes as part of a plan for balancing the budget. The governor wants to extend the sales tax to services to come up with money for schools.

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