Arkansas Lawmakers Continue To Look At Something Like Medicaid Expansion

Mar 11, 2013

Arkansas lawmakers say they are continuing to look at expanding health coverage to those in Arkansas who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level with federal money made available through the Affordable Care Act.

State lawmakers learned two weeks ago that they have the option of covering those who would benefit from the expansion with private insurance rather than putting them directly on Medicaid.

Credit Nathan Vandiver / KUAR

Monday House Majority Leader Bruce Westerman said he and his colleagues still don’t have a final idea of what that expansion may look like, but it probably won’t grow the state’s Medicaid program.

"I'm optimistic that it will be a bold reform, rather than an expansion and [that] it'll be a way to maybe move people that are on the existing Medicaid system into the private health insurance option. I believe there are ways that we can do this and make it less costly and get better services," Westerman said.

Westerman says he and his colleagues in the House and Senate will be meeting with an independent auditor all week to discuss possible reform to the existing Medicaid system.  Lawmakers voted last week to hire an outside auditor to identify issues in Arkansas’s Medicaid program.