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Obama's budget to spare Medicaid from deep cuts

Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Associated Press

FILE - In this Feb. 20, 2013 file photo, Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaks in Philadelphia. President Barack Obama’s budget next week will steer clear of major cuts to Medicaid, including tens of billions the administration proposed only last year. The White House is holding harmless the federal-state health care program for low-income people while wooing financially skittish states to expand Medicaid coverage to millions now uninsured. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama's budget will steer clear of major cuts to Medicaid.

They wouldn't go over too well at a time when his administration is trying to persuade skeptical governors to expand the giant health care program for the poor.

Expanded Medicaid is a cornerstone of Obama's health care overhaul. It's expected to cover about half the nearly 30 million people who are supposed to be gaining health insurance. But 17 states are still trying to decide whether to take the deal.

In the past, Obama has proposed Medicaid spending curbs that the states didn't like. Activists working with the White House say they have been assured by senior officials those cuts are now off the table.

The president's budget will be released next Wednesday.