Arkansas Gets Green Light for Private Medicaid Expansion

After meeting with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last week, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe (D) announced this week the department had approved his proposal to channel federal money for Medicaid recipients into private plans offered on the state's health insurance exchange, according to a report by the Arkansas Times.

If the Arkansas legislature approves the plan, about 200,000 more residents earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line would be eligible for Medicaid funding, with the federal government paying all of the additional costs for three years and no less than 90 percent after that. What's unique about this plan, compared with other states, is that the Medicaid money would go to subsidize beneficiaries' private health insurance purchased via the online health insurance marketplaces, which could include some copay requirements, according to the report.

Funding private companies and attaching more choice and copay responsibilities makes expanding Medicaid more politically palatable for conservative lawmakers in the state, giving a Medicaid expansion bill a greater likelihood of passing than before HHS gave the green light for this new model.

More Articles on Medicaid Expansion:

HHS Tries to Court GOP Governors to Expand Medicaid
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to Expand Medicaid
Feds Support States' Right to Cut Medicaid Payments

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