'Private Option' Budget Vote Moved To Monday, Arkansas Lawmakers To Talk To Voters

Apr 12, 2013

Arkansas Speaker of the House Davy Carter is pushing the House’s final vote for the “Private Option” model of Medicaid expansion back to Monday saying lawmakers are expressing support of the plan but they need the time to convince their constituents.

“When I have members that say, ‘will you please give me the opportunity to go back and talk to my constituents?’ It’s awfully hard to say no to,” Carter said.

Some House members indicated in speeches on the House floor Thursday that they would have to vote no Friday, but could vote yes by Monday.

Rep. Randy Alexander, R-Fayetteville, voted against the “Private Option.” He says the weekend might not be enough time to explain the bill but he thinks it’s better than nothing.

“I’m going to go tell them why I think it’s a good option, listen to what they have to say, but unless they tell me by a pretty large majority that they want me to vote for it, I’m going to be hard pressed to do it and I say that as somebody who thinks it’s the good option,” Alexander said.

Lawmakers say voters are very interested in the issue. Alexander said he thinks he’s been getting about 100 calls and emails a day regarding his vote.

Rep. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, also voted against the “Private Option” Thursday. He says he also needs more time, though for him, there might be a better plan altogether.

“Whether it’s two days or an amendment, you know, it could make a difference,” Hammer said. “Everything makes a difference, so that’s why I think we need to just slow it down a notch.”

Lawmakers have agreed to recess April 19th, so supporters of the plan say time is running out.

The Private Option has passed both the House and Senate by simple majorities. It will also require the passage of a companion budget bill. That will take a 75 percent super majority.