Arkansas to remain an Obamacare Medicaid Expansion state – SB96 & SB101.

ObamacareThe Arkansas House of Representatives passed SB96 which keeps Arkansas as an Obamacare Medicaid Expansion state. The only vote remaining on the bill is a noncontroversial vote in the Senate to concur in a House amendment to add sponsors to the pro-Obamacare bill. The bill will then go to the Governor to be signed into law.

The House of Representatives also passed SB101 and it now goes go to the Governor to be signed.  SB101 is the appropriation bill for the Department of Human Services – Medical Services Division.  It is the appropriation bill that opponents of the Private Option (Obamacare Medicaid Expansion) tried to stop in 2013 and 2014 in order to quickly defund the Private Option. In 2014 opponents stopped passage of the appropriation bill several times before it was eventually passed.

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spin-noSome are trying to spin the vote “FOR” SB96 as “a repeal of the Private Option.” That is not the case and is easily disproved.

 Some have used the word “compromise” to describe SB96, but where is the compromise? Instead of a compromise SB96 maintains the status quo while seeking to develop legislation to extend Obamacare Medicaid expansion on into the future.

The bill has two main parts:

  • Although SB96 is couched in terms of ending the Private Option at the end of 2016, it does nothing, The Private Option waiver was already scheduled to end then. Instead of doing anything to repeal the Private Option, SB96 puts legislators on record as approving the current terms of the Private Option; and
  • A task force is created that is charged with recommending new legislation to continue to cover the Obamacare Medicaid Expansion population in 2017 and beyond.

That SB96 keeps Arkansas as an Obamacare Medicaid Expansion state is recognized by:

  • Statements throughout the legislation;
  • A lack of an organized Democratic opposition to the legislation;
  • Conservative legislators who voted against the bill; and
  • Even by liberal journalists.