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story.lead_photo.caption House Speaker Davy Carter, left, convenes the House as the fiscal session opens Monday. ( Gavin Lesnick)

House Speaker Davy Carter says funding will be approved for the state's private option Medicaid expansion despite indications it may have lost the narrow majority of support that passed it last year.

Carter spoke shortly after legislators opened the fiscal session Monday at the state Capitol. He said the private option vote will "drive" the session and needs to be completed before legislators can turn their attention to passing a budget.

Authorizing funding for the private option requires a three-fourths majority in both chambers. State Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, who voted for the program last year, has said she will not do so again, and state Sen. John Cooper, R-Jonesboro, was elected in a special election after that vote. He opposes the program.

But, Carter said, an appropriations bill will pass, though he's not sure what it will take.

"We can't pull up on this thing now," he said. "Nothing's changed materially from what we've said was going to happen back in the General Session. We haven't even given it a fair chance to work.

"Yes, we'll pass it. The House will pass it. The Senate will pass it. How we get there, I can't lay out the road map for you right now because I 'm unsure of that, but I still think at the end of the day it will pass."

Carter said the Senate is expected to take up the bill first, but that it will be addressed early in the session. A vote in the House could come next week, he said.

"Until we get that resolved, it's going to be awfully hard or impossible to set the budget," Carter said. "If for some reason the support isn't there, we're going to have to start from scratch. It's a real issue. It's $90 million plus coming out of the budget."

The House and Senate adjourned Monday a brief ceremonial opening to the session.

Carter: Private-option funding will pass

The fiscal session opened Monday with the focus immediately turning to whether an appropriations bill for the private option will pass. In a news conference after the session got under way, House Speaker Davy Carter said the measure would pass. (By Gavin Lesnick)
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Archived Comments

  • DontDrinkDatKoolAid
    February 10, 2014 at 6:07 p.m.

    Oh please don't pass this Bill, it would be One Bad Awful Mistake Arkansas.

  • Countymayor
    February 10, 2014 at 7:36 p.m.

    Mr. Carter, do what it takes to get this bill passed.

  • FarmBoy
    February 10, 2014 at 8:33 p.m.

    I hope the leaders of Arkansas wake up and see the Private-option is not for us. The affordable health care act is a big blunder that has been shoved down out throat.
    I would encourage the voters of Arkansas to call, write to get this stopped.

  • Populist
    February 10, 2014 at 8:51 p.m.


    Explain to me why it is a mistake for one of the poorest states in America to take some money that some of the richer states want the poor people to have. Take the money and then work harder to become educated and to make money. I hate how the Tea Party have twisted the minds of the poor people to think that they are being hurt. Please take the money and then work hard to become independent.

  • Packman
    February 10, 2014 at 9:15 p.m.

    Hey Populist - Carter and Lameroux will find a way to pass it because by design they are being held hostage by the almighty federal dollar. As to why it's a mistake, please allow me to explain: To accept the money is to participate in a flawed system that at its core has nothing to do with health care and everything to do with libs using other people's money to buy votes. This is fully illustrated by your comments. "Take the money.....take the money.....take the money.." And it is ALWAYS someone else's money. What happens, Pop, when you libs run out of other people's money? The answer to that question alone is enough to stop taking the money. Does that answer your question?

  • Whippersnapper
    February 10, 2014 at 9:18 p.m.

    ThePrivate Option is only projected to save money for three years. After that, it isprojected to create a net loss for the state. We are one year into the three year process, so we have already eaten into the savings. We can save $90M now for the right to lose an additional billion over the next decade, but that's not very wise.

  • Morebeer
    February 10, 2014 at 10:09 p.m.

    So the U.S. spends 2 to 4 times more on health care than other first-world countries, yet can't insure 15% of its people and has second-world results in some areas, like infant mortality. The out-of-control costs and tens of millions of uninsured are chronic problems — the first Clinton administration tried to do health-care reform — but the issues continued for decades. Finally, Obama twists arms to get a middle-of-the-road bill (he said he'd prefer single-payer or Medicare for all) passed that is based on a system once advocated by the conservative Heritage Foundation and implement by the Republican governor of Massachusetts, where it is reportedly working. So unless you heartless jerks have a better solution to the spiraling costs and uninsured millions … I can only quote Bill O'Reilly and tell you all to Shudup!

  • Whippersnapper
    February 12, 2014 at 2:13 p.m.

    Hey DSF - conservatives offered many options during the Obamacare debate and liberals ignored them all. There are bills on the table to replace Obamacare with other options and the Democrats in the Senate refuse to debate them. Learn the facts or Shaddup!

  • Garycmillerlawgmailcom
    February 12, 2014 at 2:28 p.m.

    Whippersnapper, please help us wih facts that there is any bill on the table that would provide for pre-existing condition coverage.

  • DontDrinkDatKoolAid
    February 12, 2014 at 4:10 p.m.

    HSL, I don't mind for people having coverage, pre-existing condition or not just as long as the person in question can pay for their coverage themselves.
    Oh please don't bring the poor parroting chorus line(s).