Joint Budget Committee passes Medicaid budget, including private option; on to Senate | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Joint Budget Committee passes Medicaid budget, including private option; on to Senate

Posted By on Wed, Apr 13, 2016 at 2:53 PM

The Joint Budget Committee today passed the Medical Services appropriation, which funds the state's Medicaid program, on a voice vote. That includes both "Arkansas Works," the governor's plan to continue the private option Medicaid expansion, as well as the traditional Medicaid program (everything else, such as ARKids and the aged, blind, and disabled). 

There was all manner of wrangling over minor procedural questions, and the predictable half-baked efforts from private option opponents to delay the process with obstructive canards. Sound and fury, signifying snoring.

Some raised concerns that the appropriation is surreptitiously sneaking managed care in to the budget. It is not, as even managed care opponents on the committee came to agree. The avenues for the governor to implement managed care and the legislative mechanisms to stop him are not impacted by the appropriation one way or the other. 

Senate President Jonathan Dismang said today that the full senate will take up the appropriation tomorrow. This is a bit of a surprise; earlier Dismang had suggested that the Senate would wait until next week. Most believe that ten senators opposed to the private option will vote no and block the appropriation. We'll see! (Sen. Missy Irvin, one potential swing vote, told me she is still a NO.)

Meanwhile, the Democrats in the House have requested that no other appropriations be considered until the Medical Services appropriation passes. It's going to be a long month. 

Support for special health care reporting made possible by the Arkansas Public Policy Panel. 

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