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Arkansas House skips Tuesday vote on private option

By David Harten

This article was originally published February 25, 2014 at 7:18 a.m. Updated February 25, 2014 at 3:12 p.m.


House Speaker Davy Carter addresses the media after Tuesday's fiscal session, where no vote was made on the private option healthcare bill. Carter initially had vowed that there would be a daily vote until the bill passed.

Carter: Voting on private option "game-time decision"

Rep. Davy Carter, Speaker of the House, said that the Arkansas House of Representatives has "moved on" for the time being from the private option healthcare bill. He added that it will be a daily "game-time decision" on whether the House votes or not. (By David Harten)
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The state House of Representatives did not address reauthorizing the state’s private-option Medicaid expansion on Tuesday, opting instead to hold off the vote for at least another day.

Following Tuesday's session, Speaker of the House Davy Carter said that, while reaching a conclusion on the private-option Medicaid budget is important, the House has “moved on” to other matters for the time being.

“There [are] a whole lot of other things we have to focus on,” Carter said. “We have to set the budget for the state of Arkansas and we need to do that in the next week-to-10 days. So we’re going to get through that and I still think we’re going to work our way through this situation.”

Carter, R-Cabot, said it is "a fact" that the House's struggle to reach the necessary number of votes on private-option funding is because some representatives who were believed to be in support of amendments to the bill — proposed by Rep. Nate Bell, R-Mena — reneged on their commitments.

“Negotiations were had,” Carter said. “They were had with my office. With House leadership, with Senate, with Senate leadership and the Governor of Arkansas [Mike Beebe]. And members of the Democratic party who did not like these [amendments brought forward by Rep. Bell] in any form or fashion. That was all done. And apparently, it appears that after we cast four votes last week, those [talks] were not done in good faith.”

The House has failed to pass versions of the bill in four consecutive votes last week, while the Senate passed its version 27-8 on Thursday.

Both appropriation bills in the House and the Senate required a supermajority — 75 votes in the House and 27 in the Senate. On Friday, the House voted 71-18 in favor of the bill. The number of votes in favor of the bill have remained consistently high in the last week, with 70 members voting yes on Tuesday, 68 on Wednesday and then 72 on Thursday.

Carter had said it would be a "game-time decision" whether to hold a fifth vote Tuesday. He had initially vowed daily votes until it passed. Representatives will reconvene at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Under the private option, Arkansas is using federal Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents.

Read tomorrow’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more details.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


Comments on: Arkansas House skips Tuesday vote on private option

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AmericasDoomed says... February 25, 2014 at 10:31 a.m.

Davey needs to get the message and stop strong-arming the members that are voting for their constituents. He's voting for the ALEC. If you're from Cabot, call him and ask him why.

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SRBROTHERINLAW says... February 25, 2014 at 12:45 p.m.

Davy needs to be fired he is wasting valuable time on his own agenda.
I think 4 votes in the "no" category are sufficient.

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GrimReaper says... February 25, 2014 at 12:58 p.m.

Davy has a problem with arrogance.........

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RBBrittain says... February 25, 2014 at 2:59 p.m.

Don't you teabaggers get it? The "arrogance" is in allowing a mere ONE-FOURTH of ONE house of the legislature to block NECESSARY measures like appropriations bills. The Arkansas legislature is NOT the place to second-guess what a future Congress may OR may not do. Fact is, it will take MORE in STATE tax dollars THIS year to run Medicaid without "private option" than with it. Arguing about the Federal treasury, or what might happen several years from now, does NOT change the facts about TODAY; nor does ANY amount of overheated teabagger rhetoric like what you all are spouting.

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Populist says... February 25, 2014 at 3:01 p.m.

It is ridiculous that a small minority of members are thwarting the popular will. The state will lose $90 million and people will die from lack of medical care. I am so sick of these nuts talking about Ben Ghazi. What about the Arkansans who will die?

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hah406 says... February 25, 2014 at 3:20 p.m.

I can't believe that appropriations have to be passed by a 75% super-majority. That is the highest hurdle in the nation. We need a constitutional amendment to lower that to two-thirds, or even better 60%. Davy Carter is absolutely doing the right thing. If I were him, I would be publically calling out those members who agreed in the meetings to vote for it after the Bell amendment and are now not doing so.

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Packman says... February 25, 2014 at 3:51 p.m.

@Populist - Is it true you have underwear older than Davey Carter?
"It is ridiculous that a small minority of members are thwarting the popular will." Amen sister, Amen. Kind of like the way the will of the people has been thwarted on DOMA. Preach on sister, preach on.
"...people will die from lack of medical care." Damn Republicans, killing innocent people. Hell, ER's are turning people away left and right as we speak because they aren't required to provide medical care. Ooops, wait a minute. ER's HAVE to provide life-saving treatment. Scratch that. Its a good thing those glorious Democrats don't support death like killing little babies in the womb. Oops, wait a minute, Democrats do support killing babies. Scratch that too.


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GrimReaper says... February 25, 2014 at 8:18 p.m.

WELL! Let's just throw a temper tantrum and scream and stomp our feet. The 75% is a SAFEGUARD enacted in the state constitution to prevent a small majority of unscrupulous, profligate legislators from RAVAGING the state through reckless spending and ruinous taxation. Too bad we haven't had such at the FEDERAL level! The posts here clearly illustrate the deep, irreconcilable ideological division afflicting our society; one which likely can't be reconciled without...........WHO KNOWS WHAT?

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Firefighter says... February 25, 2014 at 10:33 p.m.

Why do some people not understand why minorities have a say in legislation. If minorities would have no say, then majorities could/would pass whatever they wanted. Is that what you belly achers want? A government run by a simple majority. For goodness sake, study world history a little and maybe you might start to understand why the US is the greatest nation on earth!!!!!!

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GWayne says... February 26, 2014 at 4:29 a.m.

Davy Carter is the only one doing his job! I am glad we have a Speaker of the house that looks out for Arkansas low income WORKING People!!! . So he got the troopers to go get some absent that said they were there-Hey Jack He should have been there. Try that in school and you get suspended!! What you people dont get is you support Medicaid , BUT THIS IS MEDICAID FOR THE WORKING PEOPLE TOO!!!

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