Ark. panel OKs Medicaid money for private option

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A Senate panel has advanced a proposal that would use federal Medicaid dollars to buy private insurance for thousands of low-income Arkansans.

The Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee on Wednesday endorsed the proposal, which was offered as an alternative to expanding Medicaid enrollment under the federal health care law.

The proposal would let Arkansas use federal money to purchase private coverage through insurance exchanges set up under the new law.

Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe has asked the GOP-led Legislature to support it. He says it will save Arkansas money by reducing uncompensated care at hospitals.

The Republican leaders of the House and Senate this week endorsed the private-option proposal.

Sponsors hope to hold a "committee of the whole" meeting in the Senate before the chamber considers the bill.

Ark. Medicaid faces nearly $200M funding gap (Nov. 13)
Ark. Medicaid faces 'significant' cuts in services (Nov. 13)
Beebe: Medicaid expansion can spare nursing homes (Nov. 14)
Ark. surgeon general addresses Medicaid expansion (Nov. 27)
Beebe: Vote on Medicaid expansion during regular session (Jan. 3)
Medicaid expansion hot topic leading up to general assembly (Jan. 7)
Focus on Medicaid as Ark. session begins (Jan. 14)
Beebe: Medicaid shortfall not as large as anticipated (Jan. 15)
Ark. lawmakers seek more details on Medicaid (Jan. 17)
Medicaid shortfall possibly $60 million less than expected (Jan. 17)
Impact of Medicaid expansion on rural hospitals (Jan. 25)
Ark. House GOP leader: Medicaid a work in progress (Jan. 28)
Beebe: Don't delay Medicaid vote until next year (Feb. 11)
Officials tout 'Medicaid contraction' (March 1)
Ark. lawmakers approve contract on Medicaid (March 5)
Ark. GOP leader floats special session on Medicaid (March 25)
Ark. panel OKs Medicaid money for private option (April 3)
Medicaid expansion hits roadblock in the House (April 9)