Feds Approve Arkansas' Private Medicaid Expansion Plan

Arkansas has received approval from the federal government to proceed with the so-called “private option” for providing health care coverage to the state’s working poor, Gov. Mike Beebe announced Friday.
October 1, 2013
 

Arkansas has received approval from the federal government to proceed with the so-called “private option” for providing health care coverage to the state’s working poor, Gov. Mike Beebe announced Friday.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius phoned Beebe on Friday morning to inform him that the agency has approved the federal waiver needed to implement the private option, according to a statement issued by the governor’s office.

“Arkansas came up with its own plan to expand Medicaid using the private insurance market, and Secretary Sebelius and her team worked to ensure that we had the flexibility to make that plan a reality,” Beebe said. “Our actions have drawn positive attention from across the country, and now we will focus on getting this insurance to the Arkansans who need it to lead healthier, more productive lives.”

Arkansas’ plan, approved by the state Legislature this year, is to use federal Medicaid money to pay for more than 200,000 Arkansans living near or below the federal poverty line to buy insurance through the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace.

The federal Affordable Care Act proposed that states expand their Medicaid rolls to include people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, but Arkansas has chosen instead to provide private insurance for that population. The federal government will pay the full cost for the first three years, after which the state’s share of the cost will increase gradually to 10 percent.

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