Arkansas Medicaid Impasse Hits New Heights

Insurance for nearly 100,000 people is on the line, but — for now — the state’s anti-Obamacare critics aren’t budging.

National Journal
Sophie Novack
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Sophie Novack
Feb. 21, 2014, 8:10 a.m.

The Arkan­sas House has voted four times this week on a bill to re­new the state’s Medi­caid ex­pan­sion pro­gram, and it’s  not done yet.

The le­gis­la­tion failed to reach the needed su­per­ma­jor­ity in the House for the fourth time on Fri­day. The 71-18 vote came up four short of the needed three-quar­ters threshold to pass spend­ing bills in the Le­gis­lature.

At ques­tion is the Arkan­sas “private op­tion,” which takes fed­er­al funds for Medi­caid ex­pan­sion un­der the Af­ford­able Care Act and ap­plies them to private ex­change plans for low-in­come in­di­vidu­als.

The Sen­ate passed the bill Thursday on a 27-8 vote.

If the le­gis­la­tion fails, the nearly 100,000 Arkansans who have already en­rolled in the pro­gram will lose their cov­er­age after June 30.

The fund­ing for the private op­tion is part of the lar­ger ap­pro­pri­ations bill for the state’s Hu­man Ser­vices De­part­ment, so the broad­er pack­age ul­ti­mately has to pass at some point. But it could pass without fund­ing for the Medi­caid plan, and that fund­ing will be left be­hind if one fac­tion of state Re­pub­lic­ans get their way.

Law­makers on both sides re­main con­fid­ent that the private-op­tion fund­ing will be re­newed even­tu­ally, ac­cord­ing to the Arkan­sas Times. But not be­fore a series of failed votes and a heavy dose of le­gis­lat­ive drama.

The mar­gin of ap­prov­al to re­new the private op­tion is so razor-thin that mem­bers were scram­bling to find the ne­ces­sary votes even as the speeches went on. The House re­cessed sev­er­al times Thursday af­ter­noon as ne­go­ti­ations con­tin­ued.

At one point, state po­lice were sent to fetch a rep­res­ent­at­ive who left the floor ahead of the vote.

Re­pub­lic­an House Speak­er Davy Carter has said law­makers will con­tin­ue vot­ing un­til the bill is passed. A fifth vote is sched­uled for Tues­day af­ter­noon.

What We're Following See More »
$618 BILLION IN FUNDING
By a Big Margin, House Passes Defense Bill
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

The National Defense Authorization Act passed the House this morning by a 375-34 vote. The bill, which heads to the Senate next week for final consideration, would fund the military to the tune of $618.7 billion, "about $3.2 billion more than the president requested for fiscal 2017. ... The White House has issued a veto threat on both the House and Senate-passed versions of the bill, but has not yet said if it will sign the compromise bill released by the conference committee this week."

Source:
SUCCEEDS UPTON
Walden to Chair Energy and Commerce Committee
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

"Republicans have elected Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) the next chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. Walden defeated Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Joe Barton (R-TX), the former committee chairman, in the race for the gavel" to succeed Michgan's Fred Upton.

Source:
BIPARTISAN SUPPORT
Senators Looking to Limit Deportations Under Trump
3 days ago
THE DETAILS

"Democratic and Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are working on legislation that would limit deportations" under President-elect Donald Trump. Leading the effort are Judiciary Committee members Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is also expected to sign on.

Source:
REQUIRES CHANGE IN LAW
Trump Taps Mattis for Defense Secretary
3 days ago
BREAKING

Donald Trump has selected retired Marine Gen. James 'Mad Dog' Mattis as his secretary of defense, according to The Washington Post. Mattis retired from active duty just four years ago, so Congress will have "to pass new legislation to bypass a federal law that states secretaries of defense must not have been on active duty in the previous seven years." The official announcement is likely to come next week.

Source:
MEASURE HEADED TO OBAMA
Senate OKs 10-Year Extension of Iran Sanctions
3 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login