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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas Sen. Bryan King speaks before the Senate voted to pass Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to rework Medicaid expansion.


The plan to keep Arkansas' hybrid Medicaid expansion is set for final votes in both the state House and Senate.

The House and Senate Insurance and Commerce committees advanced identical versions of the bill Thursday, hours after the proposal cleared both chambers. The bills face final votes Friday morning.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has proposed keeping the program, which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for thousands of low-income Arkansans. He's called for requiring some participants to pay premiums, along with other restrictions.

The proposal faces a tougher fight in a session set to begin next week, with the budget bill funding the program needing three-fourths support in both the House and Senate.

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

— The Associated Press


A plan to continue Arkansas' private-option Medicaid expansion with changes passed both the state House and Senate on Thursday, but by smaller margins than needed for funding approval during the Legislature's fiscal session.

The House voted 70-30 in favor of Arkansas Works, Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to add new requirements for some recipients of private-option Medicaid. The Senate approved the measure 25-10.

Copies of the identical bills were then sent to committees in each chamber to start the process of final legislative approval. Once each chamber passes the other's bill, the plan will be sent to the governor.

Funding for the bill will require a three-fourths majority from both the House and Senate for approval during next week's fiscal session.

Opposition to the bill came from 39 Republicans and one independent.

Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, gave a 30-minute speech introducing the bill to the House, attempting to dispel skepticism from conservatives who oppose Medicaid expansion through President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.

Collins described the system — which uses federal subsidies to pay private insurers to offer coverage — as a rebuke of Obama administration proposals to add more people to Medicaid rolls.

Collins noted the state's 40-year-low unemployment rates and expanding labor market as evidence against fears that an expansion of Medicaid would create a "welfare state."

“The predictions of disaster from an employment situation have not come true," Collins said.

The expansion's critics, however, were steadfast in their arguments that support for the private option amounted to support for "Obamacare."

"It has addicted us to billions of dollars in Americans' general tax revenue," Mary Bentley, R-Perryville, said. "We are on an unsustainable path with Medicaid."

As the House first moved to vote on the bill, a problem with the machine that records representatives' votes forced the chamber into recess for 15 minutes.

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

— John Moritz


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Archived Comments

  • Nodmcm
    April 7, 2016 at 12:43 p.m.

    Asa is a STEAMROLLER!

    April 7, 2016 at 1:16 p.m.

    The Republican Legislators and Our Beloved Governor Love everything about OBAMACARE, except the Name and that Obama Gets Credit for Health Care and the State saves Big Money,.

  • hah406
    April 7, 2016 at 1:38 p.m.

    Why should Ms. Bentley or any of the rest of the ledge care about what path the federal budget is on. As a legislator in this state, they have zero control over that, and refusing the federal Medicaid money only means it will go to some other state, and we shoot ourselves, not in the foot but more like in the gut. See how well that refusal has worked out in Oklahoma, Mississippi, or Louisiana, where hospitals are closing, teachers being laid off, etc. because of budget shortfalls.

  • mrcharles
    April 7, 2016 at 2:01 p.m.

    Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, like a prophet of old spoke, I hereby Rebuke in the name of the carpenter from Gailee [ some dispute to this description] and the party that says G-d talks to it, all that Obama stands for and wants, but we will call this new version, "VICTORY" to make sure the defectives here in Arkk do not think we support that Kenyan POTUS. Therefore , it came to pass , it did pass and it followed in the night and the following next day Asa may sign the bill. To spite the worst socialist POTUS ever, ARkkansas will show Obama up and say bad, bad idea Obama to help people. Remember we all know how to know to make more people if people die due to lack of health care.

    Frau Mary Bentley, R-Perryville, we who are about to die from allowing the government help people save their lives with health care, we salute you like the salutes of a Nuremberg rally. She remarked, I think I heard, well there goes our plan to build an aircraft carrier to our hoped for nuclear arsenal [ 2nd amendment well regulated militia]. They said she prayed this bill would not pass, but it did. Image that , she must have a defective prayer. I am sure your deity will reward you appropriately for wanting his creations to die, but will have to ask whooper ask most of us dont speak personally to the deity.

    Asa is now a traitor to the ignorant s and lice eating primates. Their little fragile eggshell minds are working over time like a virus, just waiting for the opportunity to make society and people sick, so we haven't heard the last of them there ILKS.

    I heard a guy signed up for the ACA and said I would pay for my own policy if I could afford it and it came to pass he went to a doctor with his cancer that was formerly not treated due to a preexisting condition and I'll be dog gone golly gee, he died. Another example of palins death panel or people dying due to ACA.

    May be leaving early today to go to Mississippi, to celebrate CONFEDERATE HERITAGE MONTH & the passing of the bill to end discrimination against christian folk to not be able to discriminate against gays, witches, Hittites , non-virgin brides , Canaanites and possibly poorly translated bibbbbles.
    I have been told to get there early as their white sheet sale will sale out rapidly.

  • 2boxers
    April 7, 2016 at 2:07 p.m.

    what a bunch of snarky comments as if you didn't realize the money has to come from somewhere where do you think "the government" gets its money? nothing is free. sounds like our gov Hutchinson is looking to the future.

  • Popi
    April 7, 2016 at 2:11 p.m.

    A vote for Arkansas Works, The Private Option, Affordable Care Act, is all voting for Obomacare. Call it as it is.

  • Popi
    April 7, 2016 at 2:12 p.m.

    A vote for Arkansas Works, The Private Option, Affordable Care Act, is all the same as voting for Obomacare. Call it as it is.

  • dunk7474
    April 7, 2016 at 2:30 p.m.

    Now we know that hutchinson and Obama are like twins,connected at the hip. The new healthcare passed, Obamasa, will save many. Shove that Reppubies where the moon doesn't shine.

  • GrimReaper
    April 7, 2016 at 2:34 p.m.

    Asa is very much a member of the Republican Establishment wing of the GOP/Dem Uniparty.....always has been!

  • RBBrittain
    April 7, 2016 at 6:45 p.m.

    Arkansas turning down Federal ACA money will NOT reduce Arkansans' Federal taxes, but it WILL increase our STATE taxes. It's way past time for the far right, including most of you commenters, to abandon your scorched-earth strategy against anything remotely related to the ACA!