Is Third Time the Charm for Arkansas Medicaid Expansion?

MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Dr. Martha Perez examines Maria Lebron in a room at the Community Health of South Florida, Doris Ison Health Center on February 21, 2013 in Miami, Florida. Florida Gov. Rick Scott reversed himself on February 20, and now is callling for an expansion of Medicaid to Florida residents under the federal Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
National Journal
Sophie Novack
See more stories about...
Sophie Novack
Feb. 19, 2014, 12:49 p.m.

With cov­er­age for 100,000 res­id­ents on the line, neither the Arkan­sas House nor the Sen­ate wants to be the first to ap­prove con­tinu­ing the state’s Medi­caid ex­pan­sion plan.

The Le­gis­lature is wrapped up this week in de­bates over re­new­ing fund­ing for the state’s “private op­tion” pro­gram, which ac­cepts fed­er­al funds for Medi­caid ex­pan­sion un­der the Af­ford­able Care Act and uses them to buy private plans on the ex­change.

The House voted 68-27 to ap­prove the fund­ing Wed­nes­day, but it was sev­en votes short of pas­sage. This fol­lowed a 70-27 House vote Tues­day.

Arkan­sas re­quires a 75 per­cent ap­prov­al to pass spend­ing bills, leav­ing the le­gis­la­tion in a kind of limbo un­til one side can muster a su­per­ma­jor­ity. Votes are con­tinu­ing this week un­til a few mem­bers cave.

Both the House and Sen­ate likely have the votes to ul­ti­mately pass the amended “private op­tion” plan, but each wants to wait for the oth­er to go first, ac­cord­ing to the Arkan­sas Times. Both cham­bers were ori­gin­ally sched­uled to vote on the bill Wed­nes­day, but the Sen­ate post­poned its vote.

“We’re just go­ing to wait on the House,” Sen­ate Pres­id­ent Pro Tem Mi­chael Lam­oureux said. “Just one more day. We’re not in any par­tic­u­lar hurry.”

Sen­ate lead­ers say they have the ne­ces­sary 27 votes to ap­prove the bill once it comes to a vote, though noth­ing can be cer­tain with such a nar­row mar­gin.

Mean­while, some say enough House mem­bers would flip their vote to ap­prove the bill, once it is passed in the Sen­ate. Re­pub­lic­an House Speak­er Davy Carter has said the House will con­tin­ue vot­ing un­til the bill is passed.

The Sen­ate is sched­uled to vote on the private op­tion Thursday morn­ing, with the House fol­low­ing in the af­ter­noon.

What We're Following See More »
Trump Still Struggling for Endorsements
1 hours ago
Deal Struck to Confirm Ambassador to Mexico
3 hours ago

"The United States is finally about to get an ambassador to Mexico. Senate Republicans who have been negotiating a way to confirm Roberta Jacobson as the nation’s top diplomat to Mexico have reached the contours of an agreement that would allow Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)—Jacobson’s chief obstacle—to secure renewed sanctions against Venezuela in exchange for lifting his objections."

How Much Is Cleveland Paying for ‘Protest Insurance’ for the GOP Convention?
3 hours ago

Ten million dollars, plus another $1.5 million for the broker who will "develop and obtain" the policy. The concern: mass protests could lead to mass arrests, which could then lead to civil rights claims against the city.

Sanders Could Force Changes to Nominating Process
3 hours ago

There are not "ongoing, direct conversations between" the Bernie Sanders camp and the Hillary Clinton camp regarding "the platform or rules changes," but Sanders "is already making his opening arguments" about those issues on the stump. Sanders is putting "complaints about closed primaries" atop his stump speeches lately, and figures to start a "conversation about the role of superdelegates in the nominating process." He said, “Our goal, whether we win or we do not win, is to transform the Democratic Party."

Boehner Says He Wouldn’t Vote for Cruz
5 hours ago

Well, this is unsubtle. Former Speaker John Boehner called Ted Cruz "lucifer in the flesh," adding that he "never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life." Boehner has endorsed John Kasich, but he said he'd vote for Donald Trump over Cruz. He also praised Bernie Sanders, calling him the most honest politician in the race, and predicted that Joe Biden may yet have a role to play in the Democratic contest, especially if Hillary Clinton runs into legal trouble over her emails.