55K people in Ark. want to sign up for coverage

LITTLE ROCK (AP) - The state Department of Human Services says more than 55,000 low-income Arkansans have said they want to sign up for coverage under a recently approved plan to use federal Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance.

The department said Wednesday it's preparing to send letters to those who have expressed interest in the state's "private option," approved by the federal government last week as an alternative to the Medicaid expansion under the federal health care law. The follow-up letters will be mailed Thursday and will include instructions on how to enroll in the program.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Friday gave the state final approval for the private option. About 250,000 people are expected to be covered under the plan.

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