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Arkansas senators, governor back health law repeal effort

By ANDREW DeMILLO, The Associated Press

This article was originally published September 19, 2017 at 2:44 p.m. Updated September 19, 2017 at 5:07 p.m.


Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks to reporters from the Little Rock Marriott Hotel on Friday, Aug. 11.

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas' Republican governor said Tuesday he backs a revived effort to repeal former President Barack Obama's health care law, and the state's two GOP senators said they also support the legislation.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the legislation gaining momentum in the U.S. Senate to replace much of the law with block grants to states addresses concerns he raised that past repeal efforts would have shifted too much cost to the states. Hutchinson said he believes the latest legislation would give Arkansas and other states more flexibility than repeal legislation that failed earlier this summer.

"I see this bill as the best and last opportunity to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which is the wrong direction for America," Hutchinson told reporters at the state Capitol. "I also see this as covering the major points that I've advocated for during the last six months."

More than 300,000 people are covered through Arkansas' hybrid Medicaid expansion under the federal health care law. Under the program, the state uses Medicaid money to purchase private insurance for low-income residents. Arkansas has asked the federal government for permission to move 60,000 people off the program and to impose work requirements on some other participants.

Hutchinson said the new proposal would allow Arkansas to continue the program but said the block grant money could also be used to cover some uncompensated care costs.

In addition to cutting and reshaping Medicaid, the latest repeal legislation would let states set their own coverage health requirements, allow insurers to boost premiums on people with serious medical conditions and end Obama's mandates that most Americans buy insurance and that companies offer coverage to workers.

The state's two Republican senators, John Boozman and Tom Cotton, also said through their offices that they backed the latest repeal proposal. The two lawmakers had supported previous repeal efforts.

"Senator Boozman supports the Graham-Cassidy bill because it provides flexibility to the states, empowering Arkansas to choose the best method to meet the health care needs of its citizens," Boozman spokeswoman Sara Lasure said in an email. "It also repeals the individual and employer mandates that have harmed families and business owners."

Cotton spokeswoman Caroline Rabbitt said the lawmaker believes the proposal "would be a vast improvement on Obamacare and if it comes to the floor he intends to vote for it."

Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.


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Displaying 1 - 5 of 5 total comments

notbot says... September 19, 2017 at 4:12 p.m.

We will not forget this vote or this treatment of Arkansans, ever.

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dearlo says... September 19, 2017 at 8:23 p.m.

I sure want forget and knew they were all three like and that is why i voted against them. I think many more will also vote agaibst them next time. Selfish they are!

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dearlo says... September 19, 2017 at 8:42 p.m.

I'm not on the ACA but know many who are. I with that the ADG would tell the whole truth about this and fact is they are fast tracking this because if they can't pass it by the ebd of this month they will need 60 votes and they can't get that! Block grants so they can decide who gets help and the truly sick will pay more. Disgraceful!

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Delta2 says... September 19, 2017 at 9:53 p.m.

These guys know that a lot of people in Arkansas will vote against their best interests.

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dearlo says... September 20, 2017 at 1:45 a.m.

Delta3 you are so right. I wwwld hate too be a follower and not use my own mind. Seniors will pay much more, companies want have to carry insurance, people with previous condition will have to wait a year for coverage . Many will not have any insurance. If only people would FACT check! They don't want the CBO report to come out until they kill the ACH. Then people will then get mad but it will be to late, they didn't call and complain. I pray that J.M ., L.M and at least one more have the guts to vote no. I trust very few republicans. Non of the three in Arkansas.

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