Local & Regional News
3:58 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

House Approves Bill for Medicaid Expansion

Arkansas lawmakers have approved legislation to expand the state's Medicaid program though increasing residents covered by private insurance.

The vote outcome was 62-37 and one present, with only a majority required for passage. 

Rep. Josh Burris of Harrison serves as the bill's primary sponsor and argued that the legislation's proposed coverage also brings a subset of benefits that arrives with passing the bill. 

"It's not just the coverage on the scale," Burris said. "We're adding all these other things and when you add it, it balances out. I think it's win for the state, for the federal government and it's going to be a win for the people of Arkansas that [legislators] represent."

Rep. Bruce Westerman, who was originally a backer for expansion, said while he supports a private option, the bill in question did not serve as a withstanding or sustainable solution.

"It is not that I believe my colleagues remaining on this bill are on the wrong path," Westerman said. "Rather, I believe this approach does not allow us to arrive at the goal that I and they have for the public policy of our state."

The appropriation bill, which concerns spending outlined in plans for expansion, will be heard Friday afternoon and requires a total of 75 votes.