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Private option falls short for fourth day in a row

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was originally published February 21, 2014 at 7:53 a.m. Updated February 21, 2014 at 12:09 p.m.


House Speaker Davy Carter opens the House session Friday morning.

Day 4: Private-option funding falls short again

The House voted again Friday on a funding bill that would continue Arkansas's private option Medicaid expansion and it again failed to get the required supermajority for passage. (By Gavin Lesnick)
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The state House of Representatives has voted for a fourth day in a row not to approve funding to continue Arkansas's private option Medicaid expansion.

The House voted Friday morning 71-18 on the Senate bill, falling short of the required 75-vote supermajority for passage.

The Senate passed its bill 27-8 Thursday, but the House has been falling short all week. Seventy members voted yes on Tuesday, 68 on Wednesday and 72 on Thursday.

House Speaker Davy Carter said the House will vote again when it next convenes at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"We're going to get this issue resolved," he said. "There's no question to that. There are 100,000+ people out there that are literally hanging on what we do up here. This is serious business. This membership is going to take it seriously and we're going to get this issue resolved."

Before the vote Friday, Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, addressed the members and said he would be voting yes after voting present the first three days. Carter said afterward that he was told Friday by Rep. Les "Skip" Carnine, R-Rogers, that he would vote no and wouldn't shift from that.

Still, Carter expressed optimism that the vote would eventually reach 75.

"The message is very clear," he said. "I don't know how to say it any more clear. The reality is this is the bill. There aren't enough votes to amend the bill, to send it back to budget, to do anything different. So that's just the reality. And it's time that we deal with this because we have a lot of other bills to deal with. We have to set a budget for this entire state that we can't do because we're down here playing games."

There was some drama as the vote Friday approached and Carter learned one member, Rep. John Payton, R-Wilburn, had left the chamber early after pairing with an absent member for the vote.

Carter called a recess and ordered state police to locate Payton.

"On my desk, I had a pairing form that he signed that said he was here," Carter said. "... I expect him to be here. Would I rather have not even had to do that? Yes. But, you know, we've got to be here. There's some members that want to play games, but this is going too far."

Carter said the issue was ultimately resolved when Rep. Stephen Meeks agreed to sign the pairing sheet in Payton's absence.

The vote was held moments later.

The private option narrowly passed last year but since lost at least two votes in the Senate. The chamber reached 27 votes after Sen. Jane English, R-North Little Rock, agreed this week to support it in exchange for the creation of a statewide workforce-training initiative.

Carter vowed at the start of the fiscal session last week that the private option would pass both the House and Senate, adding that failing to do so would create an about $90 million hole in the budget. After each failed vote, he said the House would continue to vote — and would not engage in further negotiations — until it passed.

"We're making progress," he said Thursday, expressing confidence the votes will ultimately come together for passage. "Yes, the bill will pass, yes it will be that bill. There will be no amending it, altering it in any form or fashion. And it will pass. Whether that's [Friday] or Tuesday or Wednesday, I don't know."

The private option plan allows the state to buy private insurance for Arkansans with incomes of up to 138 percent of the poverty level using federal Medicaid money.

The program initially is covered entirely by federal funds, but the state by 2020 would have to pay for 10 percent of it.


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Packman says... February 22, 2014 at 4:33 p.m.

@Populist - Know who has more money than he Koch's? Bro BARCK! He and that sweet antique Nancy Pelosi and Bible Thumping Mark Pryor want to pay me other's people money NOT to work so I can pursue my passion. Dude, who cares where the money comes from as long as it's FREE.

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FreeSpiritMan says... February 22, 2014 at 6:25 p.m.

SuferDuuuuude .... You need to request another brain implant, the one you got at birth was defective.

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Populist says... February 22, 2014 at 9:05 p.m.


What happened in Greece was that government drastically cut spending and turned a recession into a depression--which is exactly what you right wing zealots want to do. Many of us are in favor of cutting spending--just not on the backs of the poorest citizens. I am against many welfare type payments, but I don't want to live in a country where people die from lack of basic healthcare or food. If you increase and improve healthcare and education, the country will have enough working, skilled citizens to support a healthy economy. We have enough super wealthy who are paying next to nothing in taxes, that we don't have to deny granny a visit to the doctor to balance the budget. I'm not talking about raising taxes on those making under $1 million a year; I'm talking about those making more than $1 million a year and paying next to nothing and getting sweetheart government contracts and tax benefits. We are starting to close the deficit by cutting back on our involvement in foreign wars. People such as Tom Cotton who want us to be the warriors of the world need to be stopped; I lean more with Rand Paul on this topic. What I don't like about the libertarians is that they want almost no government--even the kind of education funding and beneficial programs which help people. While I oppose many of the Democratic oriented welfare type payments, I do favor basic healthcare.

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GrimReaper says... February 23, 2014 at 1:21 a.m.

Pop, your posts tells me that you don't have a clue as to what it happening in this country, and in the whole Western world. All you are doing now is blindly mouthing the same old tired Leftist message of woe, victimization and envy. Occasionally, as in this post, you will say something that casts a slight ray of hope that maybe there is a tiny bit of objectivity to your thought process. If you truly wish to understand you must free yourself of Leftist dogma and become INFORMED. In that light I'll offer a starting point: In 2012 approximately 2/3s of Federal expenditures went for social welfare and income type programs (includes SS and Medicare). Another 6% went to interest payments on the debt. 19% went for defense. Amount of spending covered by borrowing.....31%.
Now put on your math hat and get to work! (Source-IRS)

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FreeSpiritMan says... February 23, 2014 at 10:08 a.m.

Grim ....... I am sure you had rather spend that 66% going to war in the middle east right?

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GrimReaper says... February 23, 2014 at 1:12 p.m.

Wish I could be there to see your face when the roof falls in on you, BS Boy. Actually it is
gradually happening as we post but you're obviously too stupid to notice.

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Packman says... February 23, 2014 at 4:18 p.m.

@BillSmithFreeSpiritMan - "You need to request another brain implant, the one you got at birth was defective." Don't you mean I need a brain implant instead of another brain implant? If you're replacing the one you got at birth, that would be just another brain, not another brain implant. Dude, you just said something really, really stupid. Whoa, maybe you need that implant worse than me if you don't know the difference between an implant and another implant. Double whoa, that would make you dumber than me. Whoa, how embarrassing.

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FreeSpiritMan says... February 23, 2014 at 5:02 p.m.

SD ....Let's have a drink and get to feeling no pain, what ya think?

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80Redux says... February 24, 2014 at 8:06 a.m.

As our fearless (democrat) leader in Washington say "We won the election, we can do what we want..."

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3rdWorldState says... February 24, 2014 at 9:31 a.m.

As long as poor people cant get insurance, I'm happy.
GOP 2016!

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