Arkansas House Takes Two Votes to Approve Medicaid Expansion

In a second vote in as many days, the Arkansas House today passed an appropriations bill that provides funding for expanding Medicaid, according to the Arkansas Times. Arkansas is closely watched as the federal government has given approval to the state to expand Medicaid by using funds to purchase private health insurance policies for newly eligible individuals through the health insurance exchange.

Yesterday, the House failed by six votes to approve the measure. Today, the measure passed in a 77-23 vote (75 votes are necessary for passage).

The measure now moves to the Senate where enabling legislation already received 24 votes. Twenty seven votes are necessary for approval. The Senate vote is likely to be Wednesday, April 17.

Governor Mike Beebe had supported Medicaid eligibility expansion to 138 percent of poverty and campaigned for it across the state. In a move to capture the support of a skeptical legislature, the state sought and received approval from the federal government to move the newly eligible Medicaid population into the state insurance exchange, where they could shop for private coverage. Other states are said to be interested in following the Arkansas plan, including Florida, Ohio, Louisiana, Maine and Pennsylvania according to media reports