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story.lead_photo.caption Gov. Mike Beebe speaks on Medicaid Wednesday at the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting. - Photo by Gavin Lesnick

— Gov. Mike Beebe voiced support for expanding Medicaid at a speech Wednesday before the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce.

"I was worried about it at the outset because I wanted to know if we couldn't afford whatever match we had to pay, could we get out of it," Beebe said. "They told me we could ... We got it in writing. That solved my initial problem ... I'm going to tell you it's convinced me it's the right thing for the people of Arkansas."

Expanding Medicaid to 250,000 people would save an estimated $44 million in state revenue now, though the state would gradually assume 10 percent of the costs of new recipients beginning in 2017.

Beebe talks Medicaid shortfall, expansion in LR

Gov. Mike Beebe spoke Wednesday at the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce annual meeting, touching on Medicaid expansion and the Medicaid shortfall during his remarks. (By Gavin Lesnick)
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Accepting Medicaid expansion requires 75 percent support in the Arkansas House and Senate.

Beebe said not accepting the expansion will result in cuts to services at hospitals, including what could be significant blows to some rural facilities. And he said there could be negative consequences for those with and without insurance as well.

"Most importantly, if we don't get it, there are a lot of people that are going to be uncovered," he said. "And they are what's causing all of our insurance premiums to go up if they're showing up in the emergency rooms for more expensive care and the hospitals have to treat them for nothing."

Beebe called himself a proponent of balancing the budget and reducing the deficit, but he said not accepting the expansion would mean other states getting money that could have gone to Arkansas.

"Don't send my Medicaid money to Illinois and leave my people and my hospitals and my doctors and my employers and my folks in Arkansas out," he said. "That's where I am."

Speaking at the Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting at the Statehouse Convention Center, Beebe also touched on payment reform and the Medicaid shortfall. On the latter, he said those in attendance are responsible for raising the state's per-capita income, which in turn resulted in Arkansas having to cover a greater share of its Medicaid costs.

"The biggest reason we have a Medicaid shortfall is your fault," he told the audience of several hundred business leaders. "We are the victim of our own success."

Beebe said he doesn't usually delve into issues like Medicaid at the Chamber meeting, but he said he felt obliged to because it's an "important issue" to share with an audience composed of "important people that influence important decisions."

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  • LevyRat
    November 14, 2012 at 3:38 p.m.

    In case anyone is interested, Arkansas taxpayers currently pay 30% of current Medicaid costs. Does anyone think our broke federal government will pick up the cost for another 250,000 people? You had better remember where these federal dollars come from.

  • RBBrittain
    November 14, 2012 at 6:37 p.m.

    Razrbacker, let me just say I suspect you INTENTIONALLY misspelled "reneged". (Not to mention it's NOT true; Beebe *HAS* cut the grocery tax, and by even MORE than he promised when he first ran for governor. Insulin for dogs is NOT groceries.)
    LevyRat, until Congress says otherwise the Feds WILL pick up 90-100% of the expansion's cost; the number you cite does NOT apply to the expansion. (And stop dreaming; John Boehner finally admitted he can't repeal Obamacare.) Beebe is right: IF Congress changes its mind we can always back out of it; till then we can't afford to look this gift horse in the mouth.

  • T6
    November 14, 2012 at 8:54 p.m.

    That money ain't free!!!

  • Testingonetwothree
    November 15, 2012 at 4:37 a.m.

    The government does not MAKE $$$, it taxes to get the $$ it expect taxes to increase for all working Americans to pay for this........last week BB said we needed 250 million to pay for medicare shortfall......if the government is paying for this why is there a shortfall....

    the next shoe to drop will be amnesty for all illegals....that will gty a Democrat election across the country....when you rob Peter to pay Paul ...the Pauls of the world will always vote to keep robbing Peter

  • Guzzler
    November 15, 2012 at 12:21 p.m.

    Perhaps we should not expand it to cover the illegal Mexicans? But no, that would alienate El Beebe's supporters