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Impasse over Arkansas Medicaid expansion drags on

Posted: February 21, 2014 - 12:26pm
Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, listens to discussion dealing with the Arkansas' compromise Medicaid expansion funding plan in the House chamber at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. Under the plan known as "Private Option" Arkansas is using federal Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for thousands of low-income residents.
Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, listens to discussion dealing with the Arkansas' compromise Medicaid expansion funding plan in the House chamber at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. Under the plan known as "Private Option" Arkansas is using federal Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for thousands of low-income residents.

LITTLE ROCK — Legislation continuing Arkansas' first-in-the-nation plan to use Medicaid funds to purchase insurance for the poor has failed before the state House for a fourth day in a row.

The House voted 71-18 Friday to reauthorize funding for the "private option," four votes shy of the 75 needed to continue the program that was approved last year as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health care law.

The Senate on Thursday voted to approve the legislation.

Arkansas was the first state to win federal approval for such a plan, and several other Republican-leaning states are exploring or pursuing similar models.

House leaders have said they'll continue to vote on the measure until it passes.

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