Subscribe Register Login

Sunday, September 21, 2014, 11:40 p.m.
Top Picks - Capture Arkansas

Private option passes Arkansas House after 5th vote

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was originally published March 4, 2014 at 3:01 p.m. Updated March 4, 2014 at 4:28 p.m.

rep-kim-hammer-r-benton-speaks-to-the-state-house-of-representatives-tuesday-before-a-vote-on-the-private-option

Rep. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, speaks to the state House of Representatives Tuesday before a vote on the private option.

House passes private option on fifth try

The Arkansas House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a funding bill that continues private option Medicaid expansion. (By Gavin Lesnick)
[View Full-Size]

Reps. Les "Skip" Carnine, Mary Lou Slinkard and Kim Hammer, all Republicans, changed their votes to yes Tuesday after previously opposing the private-...

The state House of Representatives has passed funding to continue Arkansas's private option Medicaid expansion, approving the bill after four attempts last month came up short.

The House voted 76-24 Tuesday in favor of the Senate version, which passed on its first try last month. It will next go to Gov. Mike Beebe.

It was the fifth vote for the private option bill in the House. No previous attempt got more than 72 votes.

Beebe said he was "obviously" pleased by the vote, which he said should have been an easier process than when legislators narrowly approved the private option last year. This time around, they had approval of the program from the federal government and a host of tax cuts passed based on its savings, he said.

"If anything, it was even more compelling this time to do it than it was last time — not to mention the fact you'd be throwing 100,000 people off healthcare" if it didn't pass, he said.

House Speaker Davy Carter, R-Cabot, who expressed optimism the bill would ultimately pass even as it fell short in previous attempts, applauded legislators for the passage.

"I think the story is about a lot of things and one is it's about political courage," he said. "I truly do believe this is an example set for the rest of the country."

The vote came after several speeches on the floor for and against the bill.

Rep. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, announced he would vote for the bill after previously opposing it.

"There are people who will be hurt if I don't vote for this," Hammer said. "And I don't want to see those innocent people hurt because of that."

Hammer — who joined Reps. Les "Skip" Carnine and Mary Lou Slinkard in switching to yes votes — said he had not "betrayed" opponents of the bill and would not shy from voting against it next year if the program is not successful.

"I haven't stepped away from it," he said. "I plan on coming back in January. And it better be successful. Otherwise it will be voted down."

Others reiterated their opposition to the bill, including Rep. Randy Alexander, R-Fayetteville, who said he would never vote for an Affordable Care Act bill because he thinks it cannot succeed.

"It's impossible, even if we could afford it," he said. "It will destroy quality healthcare in this country. And in the end, the poor will suffer most of all."

Carter expressed optimism the bill would ultimately pass, saying the House would vote each day until it did so.

But after the first four tries, the House stopped voting daily. Tuesday's vote was the first since Feb. 21.

The Senate voted 27-8 to pass the bill after Sen. Jane English, R-North Little Rock, agreed to shift from opposing the measure to supporting it in exchange for a statewide program that aims to better workforce training.

Carter vowed at the start of the fiscal session last month that the private option would pass both the House and Senate, adding that failing to do so would create a nearly $90 million hole in the budget.

The private option plan allows the state to buy private insurance for Arkansans with incomes of up to 138 percent of the poverty level using federal Medicaid money.

The program initially is covered entirely by federal funds, but the state by 2020 would have to pay for 10 percent of it.

Read more in Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

A caption previously accompanying a photo with this story contained an error about Rep. Randy Alexander's vote on the private option Tuesday. He voted against it.

Comments on: Private option passes Arkansas House after 5th vote

To report abuse or misuse of this area please hit the "Suggest Removal" link in the comment to alert our online managers. Read our Terms of Use policy.

Subscribe Register Login

You must login to make comments.

Displaying 21 - 30 of 46 total comments

Jump to last page >>

Populist says... March 4, 2014 at 5:08 p.m.

Thank God. One of the poorest states in the country should not be turning away federal money to help the poor. Let's now try to use more money to improve education in Arkansas so that more Arkansans will become taxpayers and productive citizens.

( | suggest removal )

RBBrittain says... March 4, 2014 at 5:39 p.m.

Don't you guys know that "scorched earth" strategies, like the GOP/Tea Party approach to the ACA, were a favorite of Comrade Stalin back in the USSR? (It's how he broke Hitler's back at Stalingrad; we just finished the job in Normandy.) Even Comrade Putin has belatedly learned that doesn't work anymore; he had to at least slow down his invasion of Ukraine because their army, navy, and people just won't surrender. So it is that "Obamacare" has survived everything you've thrown against it, including THIS stupid last stand...

( | suggest removal )

nwar says... March 4, 2014 at 5:48 p.m.

Poisonous federal money"??? Gosh, I wonder how much of poison you al take? Did you guys look at the vote? 76-24. That is not a close call. That is in fact a landslide. Oh and Don'tcallmenames -- I won't. But you must be really mad at the GOP in Congress who took 49 votes n vain to repeal Obamacare, knowing the whole time that they had NO CHANCE OF IT PASSING. Thank you Arkansas Democrats and Republicans who happen to have both a brain and a heart. You had me wondering.

( | suggest removal )

ginbutt says... March 4, 2014 at 5:52 p.m.

it is federal money. Arkansas or some other place, you pick

( | suggest removal )

Populist says... March 4, 2014 at 7:43 p.m.

The simple truth is that Arkansans are paying less into the federal system than they are reaping---unless you count the many young men and women who served in the military. Let's all be grateful for what we receive from living in this great country and let us endeavor to return back more than we have received.

( | suggest removal )

Populist says... March 4, 2014 at 7:43 p.m.

The simple truth is that Arkansans are paying less into the federal system than they are reaping---unless you count the many young men and women who served in the military. Let's all be grateful for what we receive from living in this great country and let us endeavor to return back more than we have received.

( | suggest removal )

Packman says... March 4, 2014 at 7:44 p.m.

@Populist - You got it, sweetie, it's all about helping the poor. Keep telling everyone that while other people pay MY bills. I just LOVE people like you. Talking about poor people is a GREAT cover story. Don't worry about it being a little white lie, my sweet Populist, BARACK! told a little white lie to pass Obamacare (you can keep it if you like it - stupid people bought it hook, line and sinker and I'm taking it all the way to the bank) so if you and the rest of the gang keep it going, BFD. Federal money is FREE. Only the idiots that work and pay taxes think it's REAL money. What a bunch of losers.
.
@djigoo - Dude, do you have a baby momma or not? Except for that hate thing you got going on you and I are sooooooo much alike. My baby momma says to tell you to smile more. It's hard to hate when you're smiling, dude.

( | suggest removal )

AmericasDoomed says... March 4, 2014 at 8:02 p.m.

I had hoped our state gov't might improve with an GOP majority. They've sold out to ALEC. They are not working for the people of. Arkansas. It's money and politics, pure and simple.

( | suggest removal )

pvel says... March 4, 2014 at 8:24 p.m.

We needed this to pass. Arkansas is on the bottom of the pile in terms of healthcare. The more people able to see a doctor and get basic healthcare, the better it is for everyone. Not everyone can afford healthcare. Should these people be allowed to get sick and die? I don't think so. Thanks to all the Reps who did the right thing.

( | suggest removal )

djigoo says... March 5, 2014 at 12:01 a.m.

As I said earlier...

( | suggest removal )

Click here to make a comment

To report abuse or misuse of this area please hit the "Suggest Removal" link in the comment to alert our online managers. Read our Terms of Use policy.

TOP JOBS

  • Cnas

    Greystone Nursing and Rehab 121 Spring Valley Road, Cabot AR...
    Cabot, AR

  • Lpn

    Licensed Practical NurseNow taking applications for full & p...
    NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR

  • Dasep support st.

    DASEP Support Staff/CoordinatorAnswers incoming phone calls ...
    NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR

  • Systems administrator bruce oakley

    Systems AdministratorBruce Oakley Inc. is looking for a sys ...
    NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR

  • Materials handler

    USA Images, LLC, a leader in specialty print and mailing se...
    LITTLE ROCK, AR

Search 1149 jobs >

Top Picks - Capture Arkansas
Arkansas Online