Arkansas Healthcare

Local & Regional News
10:30 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Senator Changes Position On Private Option, Could Be Enough For Passage

A slice of drama was cut from the state capitol on Tuesday as a state senator previously opposed to the private option said she would now vote to fund it.

State Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock) got something in return, however. English, a long-time advocate for restructuring workforce education and training in Arkansas, said she has received support from fellow lawmakers and Gov. Mike Beebe to fundamentally alter programs tied to workforce investment.

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Local & Regional News
6:06 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Assessing Arkansas Lawmakers At Week Two Of Fiscal Session

The Arkansas House of Representatives are to vote on 'Private Option' reauthorization Tuesday. 75 votes are required for passage.
Credit Chris Hickey / KUAR News

The Arkansas Legislature meets again on Tuesday after the President's Day/Daisy Gatson Bates Holiday.

The state's "private option" plan of expanding Medicaid under the federal health care law is still the top issue. KUAR's Nathan Vandiver and Chris Hickey have a conversation about the political climate at the state Capitol as legislators prepare for a critical vote.

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Arkansas General Assembly
4:14 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Private Option Amendments Advance In Legislature

The Joint Budget Committee on Thursday
Credit Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Changes to the Private Option are making their way through the Arkansas legislature.  On Thursday, the Joint Budget Committee approved new language in the program’s fiscal bill.  It involves the state seeking federal approval for establishing Health Savings Accounts, increasing the number of adults who must share health costs and tweaking how much non-emergency transportation will be provided to people enrolled in the private option. At the meeting, State Representative John Burris said there would be a hard deadline for attaining approval.

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Arkansas General Assembly
8:12 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Legislators Hear New Private Option Proposals

Republican State Representative Nate Bell of Mena presents his amendment before the Joint Budget Subcommittee on Special Language.
Credit Chris Hickey / KUAR News

On Wednesday Arkansas Lawmakers were presented with the first concrete proposals seeking to alter the "private option," the state's unique approach to expanding health coverage for thousands of low-income people using federal Medicaid money.

 

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Arkansas General Assembly
6:35 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Fiscal Legislative Session: Day Two Happenings

The House floor after State Representatives convened Tuesday afternoon.
Credit Chris Hickey / KUAR News

The Arkansas Legislature convened for the second day of a month-long fiscal session Tuesday to consider state budgetary matters and other issues. Behind the scenes, lawmakers continue to plan possible changes to the state’s private option expansion of Medicaid in an effort to make reauthorizing funds for the program more palatable to many of the Legislature's conservative members. While House and Senate leaders were confident the program for low-income Arkansans can be reauthorized, House majority Leader Bruce Westerman told reporters that he didn't see that happening.

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Politics & Healthcare
6:36 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

On First Day Of Fiscal Session, Where Do Arkansas Legislators Stand On Private Option?

Arkansas state Senators convened Monday for the beginning of the 3rd Legislative Fiscal Session held since 2008.
Credit Chris Hickey / KUAR

Before lawmakers  milled about in the two legislative chambers,  state police color guards posted their flags and roll was called Monday, preparations for the month-long fiscal session had long been underway with months of hearings and reviews of budget proposals. The session will deal with those budget proposals for various state entities as put forward by Governor Mike Beebe. Members of the House and Senate must reach three-fourths majorities to approve them, amending certain sections along the way.

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Local & Regional News
12:42 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Arkansas Legislative Leaders Say Private Option At Risk

Less than a year after its approval, Arkansas' much-heralded plan to expand Medicaid by buying private insurance for the poor instead of adding them to the rolls is on the brink of being abandoned.

Supporters are worried that they won't have enough votes to keep the program alive after the Legislature convenes Monday.

Arkansas' plan would use federal money to purchase the policies for those who became eligible under the new health care law.

Many Republicans believe private insurers will manage the benefits more efficiently than the Medicaid program.

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Local & Regional News
9:18 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Beebe Takes Aim At Opponents Of Medicaid Expansion

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe is comparing ending the state's compromise Medicaid expansion that he backed to the insurance policy cancelations that many saw as the federal health care overhaul rolled out.

Speaking to the Political Animals Club on Wednesday, Beebe said halting the private option seems hypocritical since opponents of the expansion also complained about the widespread reports of policy cancelations from the federal health law last year.

Beebe later walked back the remarks, but said he believed the consequences would be similar.

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Local & Regional News
8:28 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Arkansas Lawmakers To Discuss 20-week Abortion Ban

Arkansas lawmakers are reviewing the rules for enforcing a law approved last year banning most abortions at 20 weeks into a woman's pregnancy.

Members of the House and Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee on Friday are scheduled to discuss changes in the rules for abortion facilities that will incorporate language from the 20-week ban. The Republican-led Legislature enacted the restriction last year, overriding a veto by Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe.

Local & Regional News
9:39 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Beebe: If Private Option Dropped, Revenue Must Be Replaced

Gov. Mike Beebe
Credit Nathan Vandiver / KUAR

  Governor Mike Beebe told a statewide television audience Thursday night the legislature will leave an $86-million "hole in the budget" if it reverses course from last year and ends the private option for the expansion of Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act.

The funding for the private option must be re-appropriated each year. Lawmakers are expected to decide its fate in the fiscal session now underway at the capitol.

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