Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe used his last speech as governor to the Political Animals Club to urge lawmakers to fund the state's "private option" compromise Medicaid expansion, saying failing to do so would be devastating to the state's hospitals.
Beebe, speaking Wednesday to the Political Animals Club meeting at the Governor's Mansion, said failing to pass funding at next month's fiscal session would mean a $28 million cut for UAMS Medical Center.
"$28 million a year difference between doing the private option and not doing it," Beebe said. "Did y'all hear that? That's real. And you can take that amount of money and interpolate it ... and that is applicable to every hospital in Arkansas in varying degrees."
Beebe noted that UAMS is a major economic engine in the state, employing 10,000 people with salaries well above the state's average.
"They will get killed if this doesn't pass," he said. "Now they won't close their doors. We've got little hospitals in rural parts of the state that will close their doors. It's not a scare tactic, folks, it's the facts."
Afterwards, Beebe said he believed he knew of one or two legislators who voted against the private option but would now vote yes. He said he would not identify them or say whether they were in the state House or Senate.