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Arkansas legislators give preliminary backing for Medicaid expansion alternative

The Arkansas House approved on a 70-30 vote a bill relatedto a program that uses federal money to buy private health insurance for thepoor, The Associated Press reported April 7.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and other GOP lawmakers support the plan,created in 2013 as a way to accept federal money without expanding Medicaidoutright as envisioned under the Affordable Care Act, the wire service noted.

Some Republicans oppose the alternative and have tried toblock funding for the program. The House vote and the state Senate vote lackedthe three-fourths majority needed to fund the Medicaid budget bill, whichlegislators will consider in an upcoming legislative session, the AP reported.A fiscal session of the legislature is scheduled to convene April 13.

The program has 250,000 enrollees, and the state has seen asignificant decline in the number of uninsured people since it began, accordingto the report.