Arkansas Medicaid Expansion Alternative Clears State Legislature

Arkansas lawmakers in the state’s Republican-controlled legislature last week endorsed a plan to accept federal Medicaid money under the Affordable Care Act, but to use the new money to buy private insurance for eligible residents.

The Obama administration and federal officials haven’t approved the Arkansas plan, but the outcome is sure to be closely watched in Tennessee.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam also has said he will not expand TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program. Haslam favors a model similar to the one proposed in Arkansas: the state would use federal funds to purchase private insurance for residents who can’t afford it. Ohio also is seeking permission from the Obama administration to pursue a similar option.

The TennCare expansion would have covered an estimated 140,000 of the state’s 1 million uninsured residents, the Associated Press reported. Haslam has said leveraging federal dollars to purchase private insurance will insure 175,000 state residents.

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