Governor Beebe's Thoughts on Changes to Arkansas's Private Option

Feb 13, 2014

Gov. Beebe at County Judge Winter Meeting
Credit Jacob Kauffman

After several changes to the private option passed out of committee Thursday the question is whether or not amendments will bring in enough supporters to re-authorize funds for the law.

Speaking with KUAR in North Little Rock after the Winter Meeting of the County Judges Association Governor Mike Beebe (D) said he could go along with the changes.

“They wouldn’t have been my first choice, no. But as a part of the compromise I supported those. We worked on them and got them in a posture where we thought it was okay,” said Beebe.

Proposed amendments to Arkansas’s private option are largely aimed at garnering more support for the legislation, which has lost key supporters in recent weeks. Legislators are also trying to avoid a projected $89 million budget shortfall that would result without the private option.

At this time garnering support in the Senate poses the biggest hurdle for reaching the three-fourths vote needed to re-authorize private option funding. Just 9 senators can override the will of the other 26 members. Despite the high threshold of votes required Beebe seemed optimistic.

“Anytime you’ve gotta get 75 percent it’s a high bar but we did it before and we’ll struggle, and fight, and claw, and persuade to do it again,” said Beebe.

The governor emphasized he believes implementing the private option and seeking waivers from the federal government on reforms is beneficial because it keeps control over some major health reforms within the state.