Arkansas Healthcare

An effort to stop signing people up for Arkansas' compromise Medicaid expansion has failed in the state Senate.

The Senate voted 15-13 Thursday against the bill to require the state to seek approval from the federal government to freeze enrollment in the "private option," which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for the poor. The program was crafted as an alternative to the Medicaid expansion envisioned under the federal health law.

State officials have said the federal government has told them they won't approve an enrollment freeze.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is expected to sign a bill that would halt Arkansas' plan to set up its own insurance exchange under the federal health law until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a lawsuit about subsidies.

House members voted 74-11 Wednesday to advance the bill. A Hutchinson spokesman previously said the governor would sign it.

The measure was approved in the Senate last week on the same day the nation's highest court heard arguments in a lawsuit centering on the federal subsidies granted by the overhaul.

The Arkansas Senate has voted to put the state's plans to set up its own insurance exchange under the federal health law on hold while the nation's highest court weighs a lawsuit over the overhaul.

The measure was approved by the Senate on a 25-0 vote Wednesday, the same day the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing arguments in a lawsuit centering on the federal subsidies granted by the overhaul. Opponents of the law say that only residents of states that set up their own insurance markets can get subsidies to help pay their premiums.

Twelve Republicans and four Democrats have been named to a legislative task force studying alternatives for covering the thousands of people currently on Arkansas' compromise Medicaid expansion.

House Speaker Jeremy Gillam and Senate President Jonathan Dismang on Monday named their members to the panel created last month to study the future of the state's "private option" program. Under the private option, Arkansas is using federal funds to purchase private insurance for the poor.

Cyberattack Touches 39,000 Arkansas Consumers With Blue Cross Plans

Feb 26, 2015

Some 39,000 Arkansas consumers were impacted by the massive data breach that hit one of the nation’s largest insurance carriers in late January, including nine individuals who had their Social Security information breached, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield spokesman Max Greenwood told Talk Business & Politics on Wednesday.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed legislation continuing the state's compromise Medicaid expansion, while the Senate has given final approval to creating a task force to look at alternatives for covering those on the program.

A spokesman says Hutchinson signed the funding measure into law on Monday. The legislation reauthorizes the state's "private option" through June 30, 2016. Under the private option, Arkansas uses federal funds to buy private insurance for low-income residents.

UAMS Annouces $1.3 Million Grants

Feb 9, 2015
Dan Rahn
Carmien Penny / KUAR News

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences announced it has received a total of $1.3 million in grants from Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and its Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas. The largest of the three donations is worth $1 million and will establish a chair in primary care. The position will be a UAMS-wide chair, and not fixed within a specific college.

With state lawmakers and Gov. Asa Hutchinson having deflected the rancorous debate regarding the Private Option we’ve seen in recent years, the issue still has a long way to go in terms of public opinion.

Hutchinson and legislative leaders have successfully secured future funding the Private Option and created a task force of 16 lawmakers to provide recommendations for a future program that may enact larger health care reforms.

Rep. Kelley Linck (R-Yellville) and Rep. Joe Farrer (R-Austin) presenting Arkansas's plan on Medicaid expansion to the House Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas’s version of Medicaid expansion, branded as the private option, is headed to the House floor. The governor’s proposal to continue the plan through 2016 and to create a task force to recommend Medicaid reforms afterward passed out of committee Tuesday.

John Cooper senator
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

The Arkansas Senate has voted to continue the state's compromise Medicaid expansion for another year and create a task force to look at alternatives for the hundreds of thousands of low-income Arkansas residents receiving coverage through the program.

The Senate voted 29-2 Thursday to reauthorize the state's "private option," which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents. The Senate also approved by a 27-7 vote the creation of a task force to look at alternatives and reforms to the state's Medicaid system.

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