Governor Mike Beebe (D) warned lawmakers Friday of possible ramifications if the private option, the state’s alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health care law, is not funded in the upcoming fiscal session.
Republican 2nd Congressional Candidate Ann Clemmer mentioned earlier this week in her campaign announcement that she had heard discussions the private option may be delayed or defunded. She said that's something she may support. Clemmer's remarks come despite her vote last legislative session to provide funding for the program.
Beebe's spokesman Matt DeCample said failing to provide over 200,000 low income Arkansans with private health insurance would result in repercussions elsewhere.
“When the private option was approved during the legislative session it opened the door for some tax cuts based on the anticipated savings that would be created by the private option. Because you would have federal money coming in which would free up some state funds for other uses and the legislature chose to assign those uses to tax cuts,” said DeCample.
The state’s constitutional requirement of maintaining a balanced budget is the reason legislation like tax cuts would be put in jeopardy. DeCample said it will also effect insurance carriers the state entered into contracts with and individuals whom acquired insurance through the program.
“If the legislature does not authorize the private option for another year in February then come July you’re going to have well over 100,000 Arkansans who have just gotten health insurance have it go away because the money won’t be there anymore,” said DeCample.
The appropriation requires the approval of three-fourths of the legislature.