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Legislators to consider private option change

By The Associated Press

This article was published January 16, 2014 at 7:21 a.m.

LITTLE ROCK — A legislative committee is to hear a budget presentation from the Arkansas Department of Human Services and questions about the state's Medicaid expansion plan are likely to come up.

The Joint Public Health Committee meets at 3 p.m. Thursday. The meeting comes days after a special election expanded the Republican majority to 22-13 in the Senate, which could signal trouble for Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe's plan to continue the state's Medicaid expansion.

Last year, legislators narrowly approved a plan to subsidize private insurance for low-income people who qualify for coverage through a federally funded Medicaid expansion.

Legislators begin a fiscal session on Feb. 10, and Beebe says he is hopeful that the votes will be there to continue the program.

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