Westerman: Delay insurance vote until next year

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The top Republican in the Arkansas House is proposing that lawmakers wait until next year to approve expanding health insurance to thousands of low-income residents, but Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe says he's opposed to that idea.

House Majority Leader Rep. Bruce Westerman on Monday proposed that lawmakers take up the enabling legislation for expanding health coverage, but push back its effective date from Jan. 1, 2014, to July 1 of that year. Westerman says that would allow lawmakers to vote on the budget bill needed for the "private option" insurance model during next year's legislative session.

Arkansas lawmakers are considering a proposal that would allow the state to use additional federal Medicaid funds to purchase private health insurance for newly eligible recipients.

Beebe told reporters he's opposed to Westerman's idea.

COMPLETE COVERAGEArk. 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)Westerman: Delay insurance vote until next year (April 1)Ark. panel OKs Medicaid money for private option (April 3)House, Senate approve "private option" Medicaid expansion, bills head to governor (April 17)Arkansas governor to sign Medicaid bill Monday (April 18)Ark. Gov. signs 'private option' plan into law (April 23)

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