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'Private option' funding bill fails in House

By Lee Hogan

This article was originally published April 15, 2013 at 1:53 p.m. Updated April 15, 2013 at 2:54 p.m.


State Rep. Duncan Baird, R-Lowell, presents House Bill 1219 on Monday, April 15, 2013.


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An appropriation bill to allow low-income Arkansans to buy private health insurance using federal Medicaid dollars failed to receive the supermajority it needed in the House on Monday afternoon.

The bill received a majority of votes in the House, 69-28, but to authorize the state to spend federal funds on Medicaid expansion, the bill needs a three-fourths majority from the House and Senate.

The House on Thursday passed House Bill 1143, sponsored by Rep. John Burris, R-Harrison, and Senate Bill 1020, sponsored by Sen. Jonathan Dismang, R-Beebe, which are identical bills that would allow the state to create a program that would allow 250,000 low-income residents to purchase health insurance using government funds.

HB1143 and SB1020 passed the House with 62 and 63 votes Thursday.

A July decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on the federal health-care law allowed states to choose whether to extend Medicaid access to those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, or $15,145 for an individual. It also calls for states to set up a private insurance marketplace for people to pick their own plan.

In a February meeting in Washington, D.C., U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius gave Gov. Mike Beebe approval to pursue the plan, and recently gave written confirmation in a letter to Beebe that the federal government supported Arkansas' "innovative approach" to expanding health insurance.

Monday's failed vote came after House Speaker Davy Carter decided to postpone the vote, which was originally scheduled for Friday. House members requested the postponement to have the weekend to discuss the appropriation with their constituents.

The bill will now try later this week at receiving three-fourths support from the House.

The legislative session is scheduled to end Friday.

Read full details in Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


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finzleft says... April 15, 2013 at 2:04 p.m.

And did we REALLY expect our legislators to give a darn for the poor people, who can't afford to contribute to THEIR campaign? Who needs free money for the state of Arkansas? Not us! Our poor can just suffer and die. This is hugely misguided and short sighted.

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torino72 says... April 15, 2013 at 2:22 p.m.

I guess tomorrow we will know the names of the 28 reps who wish to destroy health care to all Arkansans. I hope my Republican Rep was not one of them. Get ready for more budget shortfall as this kills efforts to get folks off Medicaid and tranasfer them to premium paying private healthcare, opens the doors for "healthcare freeloaders" to swamp our hospital ER's, and the more freeloafders we have the higher will be our insurance premiums, co-pays, and deductables, because "freeloaders" are not free to those with insurance. Way to go, Repubs (i.e., retards)!!!

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mimip says... April 15, 2013 at 2:23 p.m.

What are they thinking! This is so sad.

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jkaelin says... April 15, 2013 at 2:25 p.m.

Anyone who has never gone to the Capitol during these sessions should do it once! You will be shocked at how Crooked most of our Law Makers are! EXAMPLE 3 of the legislators on the Energy Commission received more than $50.000 in campaign funds. Hmmm I wonder if that's the reason they killed bill HB1207, to allow the Citizens of Arkansas to have the choice to Opt Out From Smart Meters! in time they will kill you.

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HappytobeHere says... April 15, 2013 at 2:29 p.m.

Where will the money come from when the Private Insurance companies raise their rates? This will happen because their PROFITS are going to be reduced when they have to insure everyone. The CEO's will not like that because that will cut into their excessive salaries and bonuses.

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Whippersnapper says... April 15, 2013 at 2:55 p.m.

I don’t see why anybody would have voted for it. Let’s put this in perspective:
If Arkansas voted to expand traditional Medicaid, the additional cost over the next ten years was projected by DHS to be $2.019B
If Arkansas voted to do the “private option”, the additional expense over the same time was projected to be $1.958B
If Arkansas did nothing (neither the “public” nor the “private” option), the additional cost over the next ten years was projected to be $1.11B
What is the talk of “savings” they were looking at? Well, over the next three years, the “private option” was projected to be a total of $68M cheaper than the “do nothing” option. By year four, the private option was going to be millions of dollars more expensive, and by year five all the savings would have been completely eaten up by additional costs.
So, a vote for the private option was a vote to save $68M now and have to pay an extra $850M overall. This is like me saying that I will pay you $65 spread out over the next three years as long as you promise that you will pay all of that back to me by the end of the fifth year and then go ahead and pay me an extra $850 over the following five years. Anybody here want to make that deal with me?
DHS Memo
h ttp://ww w.thearkansasproject. com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/1364415452-numbers.pdf

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rawebb says... April 15, 2013 at 3:25 p.m.

The report is notably incomplete. It omits the party affiliations of the Nays.

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RonalFos says... April 15, 2013 at 4:09 p.m.

Let's see now. First, you make it harder and more expensive for poor people to vote then next you vote to deny thousands of poor Arkansans any chance of getting medical coverage, ever. Sounds like a good plan to me. If the poor can't vote they can't punish you for sticking it to them.

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lazybar says... April 15, 2013 at 4:15 p.m.

how is it that its more expensive to vote?and why don`t they get a job and pay for insurance like the rest of us?oh wait thats right they are poor,i`d bet ninety percent of them have a colored tv with some form of cable and a smart phone.......thats really poor

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RandyC says... April 15, 2013 at 4:41 p.m.

This would be good for Arkansas hospitals, doctors, the economy and the overall health of Arkansans. I'm terribly disappointed and will contribute money anf time to defeat all who voted against this. Worst legislative session ever.

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