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Patrick signs $420m spending bill

From the folks at State House News Service:

Services for the disabled, the state's massive MassHealth budget and the State Police received funding infusions under a $420 million budget bill that Gov. Deval Patrick signed without fanfare Friday, shortly before attending a governor's candidate forum.

The bill, paid for through federal stimulus funds that won’t be available next fiscal year, deploys accounting methods aimed at putting nearly $200 million into a state rainy day fund that lawmakers and Gov. Deval Patrick have drained more than $1.5 billion from during the recession.

Patrick returned with an amendment a section of the bill requiring insurers to reimburse ambulance companies directly for services, regardless of whether the companies are members of contracted networks.

"I am concerned about the impact of this section on health care costs because it lacks guidelines government reasonable charges for ambulance services," Patrick said.

House and Senate leaders steered the bill through the Legislature during informal sessions, overcoming concerns about the bill voiced by Republicans, who ultimately agreed to allow the bill to pass.