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The chairman of the House Public Health Committee says a proposal to use federal Medicaid money to purchase private insurance for 250,000 low income Arkansans gives Arkansas a unique opportunity to shrink its Medicaid rolls and show other states how to reform health care.

Republican Rep. John Burris of Harrison on Monday made the case for the "private option" lawmakers are considering as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health care law. The proposal would use federal Medicaid money to buy coverage through the health insurance exchange set up under the law.

The Republican-led Senate on Friday passed "private option" legislation. That bill and a similar House measure are pending before the majority GOP House.

Burris addressed the House during a "committee of the whole" on the bill.

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