Special Election Bodes Ill For Arkansas Health Plan

Jan 15, 2014

A Republican takeover of a northeast Arkansas state Senate seat dims the prospects for continuing the state's compromise Medicaid expansion plan and could be a troubling early sign for Democrats who had hoped to rebound from recent losses at the polls.

Republican John Cooper's win in the special election Tuesday for the seat vacated by Democratic Sen. Paul Bookout over ethics violations gives Republicans a 22-13 majority in the Senate and takes away a key vote for the "private option" Medicaid expansion lawmakers approved last year.

Cooper called his win a clear sign that voters don't support the private option.

Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe said the results make passing the measure more difficult when the legislative session begins Feb. 10, but remained hopeful lawmakers will continue the program.