Arkansas House OKs Medicaid 'Private Option' 62-37

by Michael Stratford, The Associated Press  on Thursday, Apr. 11, 2013 3:38 pm  

A growing chorus of conservative lawmakers echoed those concerns on Thursday, arguing that the process was moving too fast.

Sen. Jason Rapert, a Republican who did not vote for the proposal when it came up last week, urged for a delay on the private option vote for about three weeks so lawmakers could explain the proposal to the public.

"The private option is the best probably that could be done in this scenario," he said "But I do not believe it has been completely sold to the people in a way they believe that."

Proponents of the private option said they were opposed to delaying the vote, even as they acknowledged the challenge of finding 12 more supporters in the House.

Burris said after Thursday's vote that he expected some lawmakers who voted against the proposal to nonetheless support its budget. He also said he opposed delaying the vote, which is expected on Friday, but acknowledged supporters would have to be flexible if they aren't able to secure a supermajority.

"If three-fourths of the House and three-fourths of the Senate don't concur with me and say that they're also comfortable then we need to pick a Plan B," he said. "We need to take whatever time it takes to get there."

Beebe, a Democrat who has been pushing legislators to allow Arkansas to tap the federal Medicaid money, said he thought lawmakers could easily explain the proposal to constituents without having to recess for a long period. He said Thursday he was cautiously optimistic about passing the proposal

"A lot of hard work by a lot of people with innovative thoughts, with a kind of bipartisan working together to figure all this stuff out have gotten us much farther than a lot of people ever thought," he told reporters after the vote. "Now we're close, let's don't ever quit now."

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