Arkansas House Again Votes Down Private Option

by Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press  on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 2:18 pm  

House Speaker Davy Carter has said the House will keep voting on the private option reauthorization until it passes.

The funding proposal includes several changes to the private option law that are intended to win over opponents of the program. They include a prohibition on the state spending any public funds on promotion or outreach for the private option, as well as the insurance marketplace created under the federal overhaul.

House Democrats vented frustration over the impasse, especially after they agreed to changes that they said would stifle enrollment in the program. They've threatened to hold up other budget bills if the health care program's fate remained in limbo.

"We're done negotiating and we're also not going to come in here every day and vote on it over and over again," House Minority Leader Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, said before Wednesday's vote. "We know the votes are there. This is not a game, and we're done playing."

The proposal's future appeared brighter in the Senate, where leaders say they have the 27 votes needed to pass the proposal. Senate President Michael Lamoureux said the 35-member chamber would vote on the program's funding Thursday morning.

Beebe, who has said $89 million of his proposed budget depends on savings from the private option cutting down on hospitals' uncompensated care costs, remained upbeat that the program would ultimately survive, despite the deadlock.

"I've always been fairly confident because the alternative is catastrophic," Beebe said.

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