Public defenders, health care weigh budget cuts

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ATLANTA - Georgia's ailing public defense system is bracing for more budget cuts.

The system has planned a meeting Thursday to discuss how address to Gov. Sonny Perdue's order to slash at least 6 percent of the budget.

The system is already in hot water after it tried to fire four full-time attorneys and replace them with contract staff.

Defense attorneys filed a lawsuit to prevent the closing of the $1.7 million Metro Atlanta Conflict Office. They say the move could put Georgia in the crosshairs of a devastating legal challenge.

But system director Mack Crawford contended he had little choice but to shutter the office because of budget cuts.

Also, Medicaid and PeachCare will be on the table as the state board of community health meets to discuss how to cuts its budget.

Medicaid, the government health program for the poor and disabled, has been targeted by Perdue for a five percent cut. Together Peach Care and Medicaid must absorb some $91 million in cuts.

PeachCare is Georgia's health insurance program for children of the working poor.

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