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DHS: No backup plan if 'private option' defunded

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published January 21, 2014 at 7:16 a.m. Updated January 21, 2014 at 11:38 a.m.

LITTLE ROCK — The head of the Arkansas Department of Human Services says he doesn't have a backup budget plan if lawmakers block funding for the state's "private option" Medicaid expansion.

Department Director John Selig told a legislative panel Tuesday that he doesn't have a contingency budget in case the Legislature discontinues the private option that was approved last year. Under the private option, Arkansas is using federal Medicaid money to purchase private insurance for low-income workers.

Democratic Sen. Linda Chesterfield called the private option's funding "at best on life support" while questioning Selig. Prospects for reauthorizing the Medicaid expansion have dimmed with supporters losing a seat in the state Senate in a special election last week.

The Joint Budget Committee planned to discuss the private option Tuesday afternoon.

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Whippersnapper says... January 21, 2014 at 8:10 a.m.

The "margins appear to have tightened"? News flash - the margin is GONE. The Private Option needs 27 state senators to support it in order to continue. It had 28 last year, but one supporter (Bookout) has been replaced by a candidate who ran primarily on eliminating the Private option and another former supporter (Irvin) has issued a statement saying she will not support it again because the implementation was fatally flawed and the federal government did not and will not allow it to be implemented as designed. Unless the pro-PO folks can flip one of the adamant opponents of the private option, it is now dead in the water.
For Senator Irvin's statement on her initial reluctance, reluctant support, and now solid opposition to the private option, go here:
ww w.thearkansasproject. com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Irvin-statement-on-PO.pdf

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AmericasDoomed says... January 21, 2014 at 12:12 p.m.

Love it. Now all we need is a Republican Gov and we can undo years of Democratic policies.

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DontDrinkDatKoolAid says... January 21, 2014 at 12:20 p.m.

Mr. Selig, you and your staff and other supporters can breakout some tin cup/can, put on a long face and panhandle. I'm sure that would be a backup budget plan the Gov. would approve.

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HotSpringsLawyer says... January 21, 2014 at 12:31 p.m.

I admit I am rusty on my Arkansas civics. But does every single State program reallly have to receive a 75% thumbs-up vote every year in order to be funded? The State Police? The Highway Department?

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TimberTopper says... January 21, 2014 at 12:39 p.m.

That one human being could hope for and cheer for other human beings misfortune shows just how low the human race can become. May God have mercy on your souls.

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RestoftheStory says... January 21, 2014 at 1:02 p.m.

This "Affordable" Healthcare Act is a nightmare. Why are people forced to buy policies with coverage they do not need? Why do men need maternity coverage? Why do healthy people need prescription coverage when antibiotics are $5 at Walmart?
How many 20-40 year old people take enough medicine to require prescription coverage? It would only be worth it if you are covered under a group plan. Individual plans were and are too expensive for these extra perks.
Obama is going to bankrupt a lot of people, but he is enriching the Medicaid group. What did you expect? The kind of "change" promoted by the Medicaid group is not what you think. Next time, be sure you know what you are voting for.

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lazybar says... January 21, 2014 at 2:19 p.m.

tt,its a 2way street.many that recieve and support gov aid hope and cheer for others misfortune when they recieve what they do not deserve.give them healthcare if you must but eliminate ebt cards and obama phones.

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Whippersnapper says... January 21, 2014 at 3:35 p.m.

HSL, the appropriations for every program require a 75% vote. Without that 75% vote, no money goes out for anything. Not only that, but the legislation enacting the private option included the following:
SECTION 3. NOT TO BE CODIFIED. (a) The implementation of this act is
suspended until an appropriation for the implementation of this act is passed
by a three-fourths vote of both houses of the Eighty-Ninth General Assembly.
(b) If an appropriation for the implementation of this act is
not passed by the Eighty-Ninth General Assembly, this act is void.
The fiscal session that is about to convene is the fiscal session of the 89th general assembly, so if they don't appropriate the funds for this, the act is void.
The act also included some points people need to remember (from the act):
An eligible individual enrolled in the program shall affirmatively acknowledge that:
(1) The program is not a perpetual federal or state right or a guaranteed entitlement;
(2) The program is subject to cancellation upon appropriate notice; and
(3) The program is not an entitlement program.
Ultimately, this was a goofy idea. The state attempted to dictate terms to the feds via this law, and the feds said "No thanks." The law itself said that the Feds had to accept the state's terms, so the fact that former supporters are now fleeing this law should come as no surprise.

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JakeTidmore says... January 21, 2014 at 4:08 p.m.

Talk Business, partnering with Hendrix College, released this poll question & response today:

Q. Last year, the legislature passed a law allowing Arkansas to spend federal Medicaid dollars to provide private insurance to low-income Arkansans through health care exchanges. In the upcoming meeting of the legislature, lawmakers will be asked to continue that program or not. Should the legislature vote to continue this “private option” after this current year?

47.5% Private Option Should Continue
32.5% Private Option Should End
20% Don’t Know

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FreeSpiritMan says... January 21, 2014 at 4:27 p.m.

Jake .... that poll shows Arkansas has a 20% ignorancy rate as well.

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