Last Hour Pitches For Medicaid Expansion Changes On Their Way

State Senator Jason Rapert (R-Bigelow).
Credit Arkansas Times

The governor may have found a solution to the Medicaid budget impasse caused by just 10 of the state Senate's 35 members in the form of a creative new use of the line item veto but he hasn't done it yet. Into the void steps some last minute finagling and fine tuning.

Morning After Pill

State Senator Jason Rapert told me Tuesday night and then announced to the public via Twitter that he's going to try and stop insurance plans under Arkansas Works from paying for The Morning After or Plan B pill.

"I've asked for amendment to be drafted to get waiver allowing AR to cease covering Morning After Pill," Rapert wrote in a message.

The Unknown 'Proposed Compromise'

Arkansas Works has the majority of both parties behind it but a three-fourths vote threshold for the appropriation has given the path to funding some trouble. Several legislators forming the minority bloc of the Republican Party are holding a press conference Wednesday at 8:30 to discuss "their proposed compromise."

No word on what it will entail. I talked to Senator Hester at length Tuesday afternoon and he did float one possible part of this package, giving the governor authority to implement asset testing as a condition of Medicaid expansion coverage if it's ever approved by federal Medicaid officials. The governor has previously said federal officials would not approve such a request.

The Affordable Care Act expands Medicaid coverage to those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level regardless of assets. Each state has the choice to participate in Medicaid expansion. Arkansas uses federal dollars to purchase private insurance for over 267,000 low-income Arkansans rather than utilizing traditional Medicaid plans.

Past ideas from some represented in the announced line-up have included capping the beneficiary population size, transitioning the program down, and add work requirements all of which the governor has said are unacceptable to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.