The Arkansas House Tuesday passed a budget bill that includes a provision to expand Medicaid under Obamacare using federal dollars for commercial insurance plans.
The bill, however, must still win three fourths of the vote in the state Senate before Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe can sign it.
Beebe has favored Medicaid expansion, which states have the option of opting out of under the new Affordable Care Act, but he had adopt the private insurance strategy to gain the support of the Republican-controlled legislature, reports Politico
That approach has been used by several GOP-led states across the country. Although the Department of Health and Human Services has to give final approval, it has already indicated a willingness to do so in order to allow more newly eligible people to enroll in the program.
Arkansas’s plan would place most of the Medicaid recipients into private coverage but exempt anyone “determined to be more effectively covered through the standard Medicaid program, such as an individual who is medically frail,” according to Politico.
Supporters maintain that an influx of new patients would drive down costs and offer patients more options. But critics argue private coverage is more expensive than traditional Medicaid and would not offer the same level of care.
The Obama administration has indicated it would require states considering the private option to demonstrate that they are providing benefits and cost sharing support equivalent to that in traditional Medicaid.
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