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House keeps Wednesday session brief, skips private-option vote

By David Harten

This article was originally published February 26, 2014 at 2:16 p.m. Updated February 26, 2014 at 3:28 p.m.


Speaker of the House Davy Carter, R-Cabot, speaks with the media after Wednesday's session.

Carter to meet with legislative members

House Speaker Davy Carter, R-Cabot, said he is set to meet with members of the legislature at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday to discuss issues with the proposed private option Medicaid bill. The House of Representatives passed over a vote on the bill on Wednesday, the second straight day they have done so. (By David Harten)
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The Arkansas House of Representatives has passed on voting on the private-option Medicaid expansion for a second straight day.

The bill was quickly addressed at the beginning of the 18-minute session Wednesday before it was put off for at least one more day.

The bill now stands as it did Tuesday, when the bill was passed over after four failed votes in the House last week. Representatives didn't convene on Monday. Speaker of the House Rep. Davy Carter, R-Cabot, initially had said that the House would vote every day until the funding bill, which would appropriate $915 million in federal Medicaid dollars to provide private health insurance to 100,000 poor Arkansans, was passed.

After the House adjourned Wednesday, Carter said he would be meeting with an unknown number of legislators to discuss various issues with the bill at 3:30 p.m. While details were scarce, Carter said he was asked to sit down with House members in a letter he received Tuesday from several constituents.

"I've been talking to members this entire time, but we're going to get a representative group, of that group, that I'm going to meet with at 3:30 today," Carter said. "We've had some preliminary discussions that were very professional, and I'm pretty optimistic."

Rep. Bruce Cozart, R-Hot Springs, said that regardless of what happens to the bill, he plans on voting against it.

"The endgame is either we stand and we stay and we kill the budget, or ... if somebody's not really strong enough, they'll step off [of their vote]," Cozart said. "Like I said, I'm not promoting anybody to step off, because I don't want to say that. But we want to pass a budget. ... I don't want to leave without a budget."

Cozart was asked if he was prepared to leave the fiscal session without a budget, if it meant killing the private-option Medicaid bill.

"I am," Cozart said, adding that he would not vote yes for the current bill.

Following Tuesday’s session, Carter said that the House has “moved on” for the time being to other matters and will readdress the private-option bill when members are ready.

The measure passed the Senate 27-8 last week with no votes to spare and required the intervention of Gov. Mike Beebe, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Wednesday. In exchange for extra workforce training funds and a reorganization of those programs, Sen. Jane English, R-North Little Rock, agreed to switch her vote and support the private option.

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


Comments on: House keeps Wednesday session brief, skips private-option vote

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Displaying 1 - 5 of 5 total comments

lazyman says... February 26, 2014 at 5:14 p.m.

Private option-no. How in the world will be able to pay for this in another year or two? We can't count on the federal gov't to keep it's word on any promises to pay. We can count on them to make changes willy-nilly to dates, plans, etc..

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RBBrittain says... February 26, 2014 at 8:12 p.m.

This is a ONE-year budget, lazyman; if Congress changes the law we have time to get out. You're just spreading fear, uncertainty & doubt to attack something YOU don't like.

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Whippersnapper says... February 27, 2014 at 8:52 a.m.

No, federal law says that the funding from the feds dries up in another year and a half or so. That's not "spreading fear" it's "spreading fact." The DHS' own projections are that after next year the Private Option is going to start being a net drain on the Arkansas budget.
They keep saying "over 100,000 people have signed up." What they keep forgetting to say is that according to DHS, less than 100k have signed up (less than 94k, actually) and that of those, over 60k were automatically enrolled by DHS on their own. Arkansans are not clamoring for the private option. 30k Arkansans (out of 3 million or so, so 1%) have willingly signed up for it. Why is it that the libs are all against the 1% when it helps them but they're all in favor of the 1% here?

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Nodmcm says... February 27, 2014 at 9:44 a.m.

Just like the national Republican party is torn in two, so is the Arkansas Republican party. Just think, the first Republican Speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives since Reconstruction, Davy Carter, cannot seem to influence his fellow Republicans to vote for the private option which was negotiated by mainstream (read:not Tea Party) Republicans, and supported by mainstream Republicans. However, the surging Tea Party faction, apparently exemplified by Cozart, plans to vote against "anything Obama" which includes the private option, no matter how different it has become due to the "private" changes to Obama's all-Medicaid original plan. This "house-divided" Republican operation doesn't seem to work very well on the national level, and now it doesn't seem to work very well in Arkansas. We'll see.

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Whippersnapper says... February 27, 2014 at 2:47 p.m.

Hey nodder,
Carter is not a "mainstream republican." Carter cut a deal with all of the Democrats to get elected speaker instead of the person the Republicans in the legislature had chosen in their caucusing. When you have to go against the wishes of the majority of your party, you are far from "mainstream."

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