Private Option Funding in Question

(KATV)-The private passed last year in Arkansas could be defunded in the next fiscal session, which begins Feb. 10. The private option, which allows those under the poverty level to purchase insurance from the federal market place using Medicaid dollars is Arkansas' answer to the Affordable Care Act's Medicare expansion.

Department of Human Services Director John Selig said Thursday that there are 100,000 less Arkansans on traditional medicaid because of the private option.

"We're getting close to 100,000 additional people who now have private insurance if we don't fund the private option, that will go away," Selig said.

The Senate majority is even more Republican now with 22 to 13, after Republican John Cooper was elected in a special election Tuesday.

"I'm confident we will fund it and it will carry on," said Sen. John Key.

Representative Joe Farrer told Channel 7 News that he believes if a vote were taken today, the private option would be defunded.

He voted against it last time, but says now others have "seen the light."

"Now they've had time to read it, they see the effects of what's happened in Washington, and what the changes are there and it feeds down to us just like it does in Washington," Farrer said.

Farrer said he's been talking to other representatives who voted for the private option last time, who have since changed their position.