Joint Budget passes newly amended private option appropriation | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Joint Budget passes newly amended private option appropriation

Posted By on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 9:13 AM

After special-language amendments to the private option appropriation were approved yesterday in a subcommittee, the appropriation is before Joint Budget committee this morning. If it passes, the appropriation could be taken up on the House floor as soon as Friday.  House Speaker Davy Carter strongly hinted yesterday that there would be a vote Friday, but I'm now hearing that's unlikely. Sounds like they are short some votes on the Democratic side of the aisle (it's not just yesterday's amendments; Blue Cross reimbursement cuts to specialists are lingering as as issue). 

For details on the amendments, see here, plus Max's take on the changes here and here

Just announced: Rep. John Burris will now offer an amendment to his amendment (which would mandate federal approval of plans to cut the non-emergency medical transportation benefit for some beneficiaries, impose cost-sharing on some beneficiaries below the poverty line, and the creation of Health Savings Accounts). Some kind of tweak to what he presented yesterday. It looks like it more clearly delineates the timeline for seeking relevant federal approval. 

Yup, here's the timeline: 

*State must submit drafts of state plan amendment or waivers required by August 1, 2014

*State must file the required state plan amendments or waivers with the United States Department of Health and Human Services by September 15, 2014

*The feds must approve the relevant waivers by <strike>Dec. 31, 2014</strike> Feb. 1, 2015 or all appropriations for the private option would halt by Feb. 1, 2015. [CORRECTION: the federal approval deadline is also Feb. 1, not Dec. 31; the governor wanted to give the legislature time during the session to take action if necessary should there be an unforeseen problem on the federal end]

Sen. Stephanie Flowers called for a roll call on the amendment (which just adds the timeline above to Burris's amendment approved yesterday in subcommittee). Private option opponents, plus Flowers, voted no. With 39 votes, the amendment was adopted. 

Joint Budget then finally took up the DHS budget, including the private option and the special-language amendments from yesterday (both Burris's with the added timeline and Rep. Nate Bell's, which would ban state spending on outreach for the private option and the Health Insurance Marketplace). The appropriation passed with 40 votes, with only private option opponents voting no. 

Next step is the House and Senate floor, where things (to say the least) get trickier. 

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