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LITTLE ROCK — Adding dental and vision coverage to Arkansas' compromise Medicaid expansion would cost nearly $43 million, according to a report released Thursday, but state officials said they're not looking at expanding the program's benefits.

A report commissioned by the state Insurance Department projected that adding the coverage to the state's "private option," would cost about $20 a month per person in the program. More than 170,000 people are enrolled in the private option, which is using federal funds to purchase insurance for the poor.

The report, released to a legislative panel, projected the cost of adding that coverage to the program would be $42.6 million.

Department of Human Services Director John Selig said the state couldn't add dental and vision to the private option until 2016, but said that's not an option they're considering. The state would have to pay for the additional coverage if it went above the cap spelled out in its agreement with the federal government for setting up the Medicaid expansion.

"We wouldn't want to add it now until we're sure we can meet the cost neutrality piece," Selig said.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more on this story.

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