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story.lead_photo.caption Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday, April 8, 2016, at the state Capitol signs into law his Arkansas Works plan, which keeps and reworks the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion. - Photo by Brandon Riddle

LITTLE ROCK — Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson and legislative leaders tried to persuade Democrats on Monday to support a plan to save Arkansas' hybrid Medicaid expansion by initially voting to defund the subsidized health insurance for thousands of poor people.

Hutchinson promised to defend any Democrats criticized for supporting the defunding measure under the approach, which is aimed at allowing the governor to reinstate the hybrid expansion through a line-item veto. House Democrats said they were looking at ways to ensure the legality of the unusual parliamentary procedure that supporters hoped would break a budget impasse over the program.

"I think this is a unique solution for a unique challenge that we face," Hutchinson told members of the Legislative Black Caucus.

A Medicaid budget bill funding the expansion has fallen short of the three-fourths vote needed in the Senate for approval. The backup plan calls for adding a provision to the Medicaid budget that would defund the hybrid expansion, which uses federal funds to purchase private funds for low-income residents. If the Legislature approves the revised budget measure, Hutchinson has promised to veto the defunding provision. That would allow the Legislature to effectively fund the program by upholding the governor's veto, which requires a simple majority.

The Legislature is set to reconvene Tuesday after lawmakers deadlocked last week over efforts to resolve the budget standoff. Hutchinson told the caucus that three of the 10 Senate Republicans opposed to the expansions have told him they'll vote for the Medicaid budget with the defunding provision, despite Hutchinson's promise to reinstate the funding. Nearly all Democrats in the Legislature would need to support the Medicaid budget with the defunding provision for the proposal to reach Hutchinson's desk.

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


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  • RBBrittain
    April 18, 2016 at 2:23 p.m.

    It would be nice if he can do it, but the real problem is I'm not sure Gov. Asa! can constitutionally use line-item veto to strip out the defunding language. Traditionally, line-item veto has been limited to "line items" of appropriation bills that actually budget dollars or positions, NOT "special language" imposing restrictions on those dollars (i.e., defunding private option). He might get less than three-fourths of the legislature to strip it out later (probably in the next special session), but I don't think he can strip it out by himself via line-item veto.

  • dearlo
    April 18, 2016 at 5:07 p.m.

    Agree RBBr. I know he should Not be allowed to pick and choose what he and his..... want to do to some people in our Arkansas. Election day coming soon.

  • SouthCounty
    April 18, 2016 at 5:33 p.m.

    You're right partly, he shouldn't have to do that way....Majority should rule, obstructionist shouldn't. These 10 I think will regret this come election, I know I'm gonna do my part....

  • cypert
    April 18, 2016 at 7:37 p.m.

    the governor ran for office against the affordable health care law, so he changes the name and now supports Arkansas works. when his party opposes him he turns to democratic members to bail him out. in five years when that democratic member is running for office and their opposition runs adds that they voted against affordable health care , where will the governor be? he will be out running against the democratic party.

  • carpenterretired
    April 18, 2016 at 8:47 p.m.

    But will Asa's workaround work for the Koch ten on judgment day , Lord or voters?

  • Knuckleball1
    April 18, 2016 at 10:13 p.m.

    Legal? ? ? ? ? This administration will twist the law to suit their needs. Then scream that they are being oppressed by the liberal judge who rules against what they are trying to do. ...!!!!