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House Committee Advances Medicaid Expansion, One Vote From Passage

Arkansas House

A bill that would transform Arkansas’ Medicaid expansion program is one vote away from going to the governor’s office.

The House Public Health, Welfare and Labor committee on Tuesday, by a vote of 11-7, advanced Senate Bill 410 to the House floor.

The proposed program, which was introduced in early March, keeps the current private insurance model for purchasing plans like the private option for the Arkansas Works program did.

The proposed legislation also eliminates the previous work requirement, which is currently being challenged in court. 

In presenting the bill to the committee, Rep. Michelle Gray, R-Melbourne, said a work requirement is not included in this version of the bill because the Biden Administration would not approve of it.

Gray also refuted a citizen’s claim that the state’s Medicaid expansion led to recent hospital closures and layoffs

"Only one hospital closed, that was in De Queen. Nothing in Jacksonville closed. And to the 600 employees that UAMS laid off or fired, that was due to COVID[-19]. I had 150 at my hospital that we ended up having to let go due to COVID[-19]. It had absolutely nothing to do with Medicaid expansion," Gray said.

Rep. Josh Miller, R-Heber Springs, spoke against passing the bill.

"I’ve been opposed to the program since 2013. I’ve been opposed to it since 2012. And I’m willing to say at this point, I give up. I’m done fighting it. Let’s just do it fairly and let’s do it the most affordable way possible," Miller said.

The bill now goes to the House, where it could be up for a vote next week.

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