Beebe signs 'private option' plan into law
Posted: April 23, 2013 at 6:57 a.m.
Updated: April 23, 2013 at 2:01 p.m.
Gov. Mike Beebe has signed into law legislation that will allow Arkansas to use federal Medicaid dollars to purchase private health insurance for thousands of low-income residents.
Beebe on Tuesday signed into law bills setting up the "private option" program that supporters have touted as an alternative to the Medicaid expansion called for under the federal health care law. The proposal would allow the state to purchase private insurance through an exchange set up through the law.
The governor signed the bills in a ceremony in his conference room at the state Capitol before a packed room. A number of legislators, including Rep. John Burris, R-Harrison, House Speaker Rep. Davy Carter, R-Cabot and Sen. Jonathan Dismang, R-Beebe, stood behind him.
Afterward, Beebe commended lawmakers for working together to pass the private option bills and other legislation during the session.
"Somebody could take a lesson from this in a place about a thousand miles east of here in Washington DC," he said, praising the "civility" of the process "with a few exceptions."
The federal government must still approve Arkansas' plan. Federal officials have said the concept is consistent with Medicaid's requirements.
Arkansas lawmakers gave final approval to the private option bills last week.