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The “Private Option” Is Ending! DHS Says So!

Updated: Apr 13

It’s not been a great legislative session for conservatives opposed to the “private option” Medicaid expansion program, but a bill by Rep. Donnie Copeland about to become law is one bright spot. From Arkansas Online:

The state will have to start paying 5 percent of the cost of the program in 2017, and its share will eventually increase to 10 percent in 2020, when Gov. Asa Hutchinson says the state’s cost would be more than $200 million In a 21-7 vote, the Arkansas Senate sent House Bill 1363 by Rep. Donnie Copeland, R-North Little Rock, back to the House. The Senate-approved version includes an amendment adding a co-sponsor to the bill; the House will need to approve the change before it goes to the governor. The Department of Human Services would be required under the bill to notify all people enrolled in the program at the date of their renewal or reassessment for enrollment that the program and its health insurance coverage will end on Dec. 31, 2016. The department also would be required to notify a person enrolled in the program on or after the effective date of the bill that the program and its health insurance coverage will end on Dec. 31, 2016. The bill would become effective 90 days after the Legislature adjourns if it’s enacted into law.

Now, I’m not exactly certain that the “private option” will be ending at the end of 2016 (as some Republicans are saying). However, this bill would at least apply some pressure to Department of Human Services bureaucrats and state legislators to end the program, because, you know … DHS will be sending out letters saying the “private option” is ending. This bill will also make it harder for some legislators and bureaucrats next year to claim they never said the program was ending. (In the recent past, private option defenders have regularly resorted to the argument that it would be cruel to end the program without sufficient notice to enrollees.) So, it’s official! The “private option” is ending! Who told me? Arkansas DHS bureaucrats!

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