Arkansas' Private Option Faces New Pressure in 2014 (AP Analysis)

by Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press  on Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013 8:37 am  

Arkansas Rep. Ann Clemmer suggested that legislators were considering delaying the private option's implementation — a claim denied by architects of the law. (Photo by Dustin Nevill)

"If you don't continue it, you've either got to repeal your tax cuts or else what?...You're either going to have to do away with the tax cuts, and what's the likelihood of that? " Gov. Mike Beebe said last week. "Or you're going to have to take it away from somebody else. Or you're going to underfund Medicaid."

The questions also come on the heels of a key legislative victory for opponents of the health care law, who blocked additional funding for marketing and promoting the state's insurance exchange. It also could overshadow the success state officials say they're seeing with the private option. Unlike the health exchange — which has seen less than 200 people sign up because of the computer glitches, the state has already enrolled thousands in the private option program.

Architects of the private option say they're concerned about the impact the rollout's problems will have on the private option, but say they're still focusing on how to implement the law and the accompanying reforms to the state's Medicaid program.

"The missteps that are happening at the federal level absolutely impact what happens here in the state," said state Sen. Jonathan Dismang, R-Beebe. "At this point, we still are examining the private option and making sure it's what we thought it would be. To date, it seems that it is."

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