Arkansas Politics

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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Local & Regional News
10:48 am
Thu February 13, 2014

Arkansas Panel Advances Private Option Bill

An Arkansas legislative panel has advanced the funding bill for the state's compromise Medicaid expansion.

The Joint Budget Committee on Thursday recommended passing the measure, which would keep the state's "private option" alive for another year.

Under the private option, Arkansas is using federal Medicaid money to purchase private insurance for thousands of low-income residents. The private option was approved as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health law.

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Local & Regional News
9:46 am
Thu February 13, 2014

US Rep. Tim Griffin Makes Official: He is Running For Lt. Governor

Rep. Tim Griffin

U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin says he's running for Arkansas lieutenant governor, jumping into state politics just a few months after announcing his retirement from Congress.

Griffin announced Thursday that he would seek the Republican Party's nomination. He announced in October that he wouldn't seek a third term in Congress, saying he wanted to spend more time at home with his family.

Griffin is the third Republican running for lieutenant governor. State Reps. Debra Hobbs and Andy Mayberry are seeking the GOP nomination.

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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
2:34 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Arkansas Legislature Begins Special Session, Private Option & Common Core Discussed

The Arkansas Senate convenes Monday afternoon at the state Capitol.
Credit Chris Hickey / KUAR

Arkansas lawmakers have opened a legislative session that's expected to focus on the future of the state's compromise plan to expand Medicaid under the federal health care law.

The House and Senate convened Monday for the state's third-ever fiscal session. It's the third slimmed-down session focusing on the state's budget under a constitutional amendment voters approved in 2008 requiring the Legislature to meet and budget annually.

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Local & Regional News
2:33 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Rep. Tim Griffin Considering Run For Arkansas Lt. Governor

Rep. Tim Griffin

U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, who is stepping down at the end of his current term, says he is considering a run for lieutenant governor of Arkansas.

The 2nd district Republican had cited family concerns when he announced last year he would not run for re-election. In an interview with KUAR, Griffin said the lieutenant governor’s position would be ideal.

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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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