Endangered Arkansas Medicaid Expansion Fails First Of Several Votes

ASSOCIATED PRESS
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The Arkansas House rejected funding to continue the state’s unique Medicaid expansion Tuesday, the Arkansas Times reported, but more votes on the issue are expected to come in the next few days and it could still pass.

The funding bill failed 70-27, not enough to meet the 75-vote supermajority necessary to accept federal dollars provided through Obamacare to pay for Medicaid-eligible Arkansans to purchase private health coverage.

About 85,000 residents have signed up through the so-called “private option” thus far.

The bill is expected to eventually pass in the House, the Times reported, and amendments designed to win over the five needed votes have already been introduced. One, to give an example, would prohibit the state from spending any money to advertise for HealthCare.gov and the private option.

As TPM previously reported, the real test could be the state Senate, where conservatives had expressed confidence that they had enough votes to block a supermajority there.

But the Times also reported Tuesday that a Republican state senator, Jane English, announced her decision to support the Medicaid expansion funding, but only in exchange for workforce training funding that she has previously sought.

If the funding bill does clear the House and English gives her vote, that should be enough to keep Medicaid expansion alive in Arkansas, according to the Times.

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