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Legislators float private-option alternative bill

By David Harten

This article was published February 19, 2014 at 1:34 p.m.

a-group-of-arkansas-legislators-led-by-sen-jim-hendren-r-gravette-center-and-rep-bob-ballinger-r-hindsville-to-his-left-present-a-bill-wednesday-feb-19-2014-that-would-set-a-limit-on-private-option-funding-and-enrollment-after-july-1

A group of Arkansas legislators led by Sen. Jim Hendren, R-Gravette, center, and Rep. Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville, to his left, present a bill Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, that would set a limit on private-option funding and enrollment after July 1.

About two dozen state legislators came together Wednesday afternoon to announce the filing of a bill that would extend the discussion on the issue of the private option Medicaid expansion.

The bill, which was filed by Rep. Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville, on Tuesday, would set a limit on funding and enrollment under the private option, the name for a compromise measure that allows the use of federal Medicaid funds to buy private health insurance for low-income Arkansans.

The bill would cap the number who could enroll under the current guideline and would go into effect July 1, Ballinger said. After July 1, the current structure for the private option would remain intact and enrolled members would be protected and their expenses funded by the Department of Human Services until March 1, 2015.

A subsection of the bill requires the department to request "a state plan amendment, a waiver, or both to allow individuals enrolled before July 1, 2014 to continue the Private Option until March 1, 201[5]."

However, the law is contingent on the the House and Senate passing a measure to continue private-option funding before the end of the legislative session in 45 days. If no resolution is reached, the private option would be defunded on July 1. Ballinger said he was confident something would get passed. If necessary, Gov. Mike Beebe could call a special session if nothing is passed before March 26.

In a news conference led by Ballinger and Sen. Jim Hendren, R-Gravette, a group of about 25 representatives and senators stood in support of the bill.

Read more about this story in tomorrow’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 total comments

DontDrinkDatKoolAid says... February 19, 2014 at 2:37 p.m.

Interesting. Very interesting.

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GWayne says... February 19, 2014 at 11:57 p.m.

I see why the vote failed, was too good to be true for it to last! Now water it down.

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Reason says... February 20, 2014 at 2:21 a.m.

Please note: The 25 republicans did not defund their own tax funded insurance.

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