Arkansas Healthcare

Fiscal Legislative Session
7:29 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Private Option Again Fails To Pass, More Votes To Come

Foes of the private option present proposals to completely stop any further enrollment in the program. Governor Mike Beebe and House Speaker Davy Carter say the plan is politically unrealistic.
Credit Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Arkansas Legislative leaders say they are finished negotiating new terms relating to the state’s private option alternative to Medicaid expansion, after the bill to appropriate funds for the program failed to get the needed votes to pass.

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Local & Regional News
11:20 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Arkansas House To Vote Again On Private Option, Senate Delays Action

Arkansas' compromise Medicaid expansion is up for a vote in the state House, a day after an effort to keep the program alive failed in that chamber.

The House is expected to vote Wednesday on legislation to continue the "private option" that was approved last year as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health law.

Through the private option, Arkansas is using federal Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for low-income workers.

The legislation failed in the House Tuesday, falling five votes shy of the 75 needed in the 100-member chamber.

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Arkansas General Assembly
8:56 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

More Votes On Private Option Expected

House Speaker Davy Carter (R, Cabot) speaks to reporters after the Department of Human Services Division of Medical Services appropriation bill failed to get 75 votes for passage.
Credit Chris Hickey / KUAR News

 The Arkansas House of Representatives failed to reach a threshold of 75 votes to fund the state’s private option Tuesday. But as KUAR’s Chris Hickey reports, legislative leaders plan to continue to bring the bill up for a vote until the needed votes are secured.

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Local & Regional News
2:53 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Arkansas House Votes Against Compromise Medicaid Plan

Members of the Arkansas House at the start of Tuesday's session, before the vote over the private option.
Credit Chris Hickey / KUAR

While it’s expected to get another vote Wednesday, the Arkansas House of Representatives voted against a bill Tuesday that would reauthorize funding for the so-called private option.

State Representative John Burris, a Republican from Harrison, spoke in favor of it, telling his colleagues it would be best to continue the program that uses federal Medicaid money to buy private insurance for low income residents.

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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

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

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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