Arkansas Healthcare

The deadline to sign up for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace is nearing. Those seeking to enroll have until next Monday, March 31, or they may face a fine.

The fight over Arkansas' compromise Medicaid expansion may be over in the Legislature, but it's now spilling over into a number of Republican primaries this spring.

GOP candidates who supported the "private option" plan to use federal Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for the poor are now facing friendly fire from within the party as they near the May 20 primary. The fight is spilling over into races that have nothing to do with the "private option" or health care, including the primaries for state treasurer and auditor.

The Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority has reclassified 200 acres of land donated to a planned medical school near Fort Smith.

The action changes permitted use of the land from mixed commercial and residential to institutional and clears the way for building permits.

The Fort Smith Regional Healthcare Foundation announced plans in February for what it calls the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine. The foundation's board of directors committed $58 million to the project and the Redevelopment Authority donated the land.

Davy Carter
Nathan Vandiver / KUAR

State Legislators say they’re getting closer to finding a way to pass funding for Arkansas’s private option. House Leadership have been meeting with opponents and Department of Human Services officials about the possibility of limiting the time period during which people can enroll in the program.

House Speaker Davy Carter said an idea is being floated to create a fixed period of open enrollment in private option health insurance plans. In meetings with opponents and DHS officials, the issue of setting a specific time frame for people to enroll was raised.

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR

The Arkansas House of Representatives again delayed a fifth vote on funding Arkansas’s private option alternative to Medicaid expansion Wednesday. It came just as the state Department of Human Services new released figures showing that 127, 051 people have been deemed eligible to receive assistance under the healthcare program, with 105,561 already covered.

House Chamber of Arkansas General Assembly

The Arkansas House of Representatives is showing more signs of a continued stalemate over reauthorizing funds for the private option. On Tuesday measures to fund the Department of Human Services Division of Medical Services were not brought up for a vote, as House leadership indicated that the chamber was still two votes shy of reaching the 75 percent supermajority to reapprove the healthcare program for poor Arkansans.

Chris Hickey / KUAR

The Arkansas House of Representatives meets today. Lawmakers have lots of appropriation bills – which continue funding for various programs and agencies – awaiting their approval. They are all held up by the state's “private option,” its Medicaid expansion compromise.

Governor Beebe on C-span

Governor Mike Beebe is expressing optimism that Arkansas’s plan to provide low-income residents with private health insurance using federal Medicaid dollars will be reapproved by the state legislature. Beebe is in our nation’s Capitol for a National Governor’s Association Conference. There, Arkansas’s private option alternative to Medicaid Expansion is receiving attention as state lawmakers here attempt to overcome a small minority who oppose the program.

For the fourth time in as many days, the Arkansas House of Representatives failed to pass a measure that would fund the private option, the state’s unique plan to provide hundreds of thousands of poor people with private health insurance.  The funding bill failed on a 71 to 18 vote, with many members voting in absentia (Friday is normally a day off for legislators.

Chris Hickey / KUAR

In what was expected to be a close but almost certain vote, the Arkansas State Senate passed the appropriation bill for the private option, the healthcare plan that extends coverage to poor residents. Later in the afternoon Thursday, the House of Representatives again fell short of passing the bill.