Arkansas Senate Approves 'Private Option' Proposal

Apr 5, 2013

Credit Nathan Vandiver / KUAR

The Arkansas Senate has approved a proposal to use federal funds to purchase private insurance for 250,000 low-income workers, an idea that's being touted as an alternative to expanding Medicaid's enrollment.

By a 24-9 vote, the Senate on Friday approved the "private option" proposal that Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe and Republican legislative leaders have said is preferable to the Medicaid expansion called for under the federal health care law.

Under the proposal, Arkansas would use Medicaid dollars to purchase private coverage for the newly eligible under the federal health care law.

The insurance would be purchased through the exchange set up under the law.

Supporters of the measure say it would save the state money by cutting down on hospitals' uncompensated care costs and would ultimately trim Medicaid's rolls.