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.