Published: Feb 10, 2011 5:43 PM EST
Updated: Feb 10, 2011 2:48 PM EST

MIAMI- Florida Medicaid patients may lose access to dentistry, optometry and mental health services as state Senate leaders try to cut the program's growing budget.

Federal health officials are also steering state lawmakers to save money by limiting benefits. The Senate will release its proposed Medicaid budget next week.

Gov. Rick Scott this week proposed saving $1 billion by reducing Medicaid fees paid to hospitals by 5 percent. The Senate bill calls for increasing reimbursement rates and limiting legal liabilities for primary care doctors. Sen. Joe Negron did not specify an amount, but said the reimbursement rate increase would be more than 2 percent.

He said the state can only afford to fund essential services.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)