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 »
As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."