While the Arkansas House did convene Monday the chamber had some noticeable vacancies as several representatives did not come to the Capitol due to adverse weather conditions. Re-authorizing funds for the private option was not discussed in the legislature but Republican House Speaker Davy Carter told Roby Brock of Talk Business Arkansas he is still confident funding will be approved.
“At the end of the day we're going to get this resolved. The people of Arkansas should have some comfort in that. I will say this, even the ones that are still opposing the measure even up to this day, are beginning to come and recognize that's not a good option,” said Carter.
Carter said opponents of health care reform who want to pass the budget without including the private option simply do not have the votes needed. He said the House will not go home without first navigating the issue of the private option.
After failing to garner enough support last week there has been renewed discussion about new amendments to satisfy conservatives such as limiting the enrollment window. Carter told Talk Business Arkansas those changes are being pushed by a slim majority of his party.
“That subject matter arose from discussions I had with several members that stem from a letter I received from 27 of the House Republicans. They said they'd like to sit down and discuss the matter and possibly negotiate some other alternative. In those discussions open-enrollment did come up,” said Carter.
Speaker Carter doesn't believe there is enough support for limiting the enrollment window and argues such a change has complicated, unintended consequences. He suggested some who were initially pushing for the change are now thinking about it more cautiously.
At last count 73 members of the 100 member House voted for the funding bill. Just two more supporters are needed to meet the three-fourths vote threshold required in Arkansas's Constitution for most appropriations.