Arkansas House Rejects 'Private Option' Health Law

Arkansas' compromise to renew its Medicaid expansion plan was rejected by the state House of Representatives in a 70-27 vote. With nearly 90,000 low-come individuals enrolled in the plan, failure to re-launch the program raises questions about its future in the state.

Arkansas’ compromise to renew its Medicaid expansion plan was rejected by the state House of Representatives in a 70-27 vote. With nearly 90,000 low-come individuals enrolled in the plan, failure to re-launch the program raises questions about its future in the state.

In place of expanding the state’s Medicaid program, Arkansas used federally approved Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for those who are newly insured under the ACA.

PBS correspondent Hari Sreenivasan says:

Immediately after passage, it was championed as a health reform approach that both parties could tolerate. Conservatives liked the idea that private-option patients would access their healthcare through insurance plans like Blue Cross and Blue Shield, as opposed to the traditional government-run Medicaid program, which many Republicans feel is inefficient and offers first poor-quality care.

Supporters say it achieves the same results as traditional Medicaid expansion by saving hospitals and taxpayers millions in uncompensated care costs and bringing billions of federal dollars into the state economy. The federal government will pick up 100 percent of the cost in the first 3 years, with states eventually paying 10% thereafter.

House Speaker Davy Carter, who supports the private option, said representatives would take up the bill again at sessions until it passes. However, even as the legislation showed some promise in the state Senate, Majority Leader Bruce Westerman said the vote demonstrates the House’s strong opposition to the ACA.

“When we can't defeat bad policy, it's our responsibility to do everything we can to influence it,” added Representative Nate Bell.

Around the Web

Arkansas Medicaid Compromise Rejected [Modern Healthcare]

Private Alternative to Medicaid Expansion Faces Crucial Vote in Arkansas [PBS]

Arkansas House Fails to Pass 'Private Option' Health Law [Wall Street Journal]