Arkansas House Panel OKs 'Private Option' Bill

by Michael Stratford, The Associated Press  on Tuesday, Apr. 9, 2013 3:14 pm  

House Public Health Committee approved the Medicaid "private option" proposal on a voice vote, minutes after the top Republican in the House withdrew his name as a sponsor of the bill and said he would vote against the proposal.

"The reason I co-signed on to the bill in the first place was to try to work through issues and maybe come up with something right here at the end that would be a little more palatable," he told reporters Tuesday. "I haven't got to that point."

Westerman also said he would most likely table his plans to pursue a competing Medicaid proposal.

Federal officials also still need to sign off on Arkansas' approach to using federal Medicaid dollars made available by President Obama's 2010 health care law. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has said the state's plan was consistent with Medicaid's requirements, but in a letter to Gov. Beebe last week stopped short of giving final approval.

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