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Arkansas option gains steam as states look for Medicaid expansion alternatives

Three weeks ago, when Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe was in Washington for the National Governors Association meeting, he made a trip to Health and Human Services.

Beebe had an unusual Obamacare proposal. The Arkansas legislature did not want to expand Medicaid for those under 133 percent of the federal poverty line, an option under the Affordable Care Act. Instead, it wanted to use billions in Medicaid funding to buy private insurance for that same population.

To the surprise of many (including Beebe), the Obama administration approved, in concept, the idea.

That was just three weeks ago. Now, by my count, there are four other states considering the Arkansas approach: Florida, Ohio, Louisiana and Maine, the Washington Post Reports.

Meanwhile, in Mississippi the Arkansas option is expected to get a look as executives of Mississippi’s hospitals meet with Gov. Phil Bryant and other state leaders on alternatives to expanding Medicaid. The Mississippi Hospital Association has conceded Bryant will not reverse his refusal to accept Medicaid expansion and the hundreds of millions of dollars it would provide for insuring around 300,000 of the state’s working poor.

But they are encouraged by an invitation from Bryant to join him in examining alternatives, said Chris Anderson, CEO of Singing River Health System. “I know that we cannot solve it if we don’t get in a room with a lot of smart people and talk,” he said at a Hospital Association press conference last week.

Anderson and other hospital executives worry that without a solution they stand to lose tens of millions in federal dollars that now go help offset their costs of providing treatment to uninsured Mississippians.

Read the Washington Post report on the buzz Arkansas’ plan is generating among the states yet to commit to Medicaid expansion:

 

 

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