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California closer to getting nearly $2 billion in federal Medicaid money

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The U.S. Senate is practically out the door to its summer recess. But late this afternoon, Senators found enough votes to avoid a filibuster on a measure that includes nearly $2 billion to help plug California’s budget gap. There’s money in the bill for teachers and firefighters, too.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been asking Washington for Medicaid dollars to help handle the health care tab for more than seven million Californians.

On the day before it’s supposed to leave town, the US Senate found 61 votes to deflect the threat of a filibuster and move the bill forward.

The emergency package also includes money for teachers and first responders, and is estimated to save 13,500 jobs in California alone. The measure also includes a nearly $12 billion rollback of food stamp benefits that were part of last year's stimulus package.

That means about $50 a month less for a family of three, but those cutbacks wouldn't kick in for another four years.

If the Senate approves the funding measure, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she’ll call the House back to work next week so it can do the same.

Governor Schwarzenegger has counted on the Medicaid money to help plug the state’s $19 billion budget deficit.