LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas lawmakers on Monday rejected a $4.5 million advertising contract for the state's insurance exchange under the federal health care law, complicating the launch of the online marketplace a day before residents can begin signing up for coverage.
The 26-15 vote by the Arkansas Legislative Council against the contract effectively halts plans to promote the exchange. Gov. Mike Beebe said that for now, he doesn't plan to move forward with the advertising contract, despite having the authority to do so.
The contract called for the state to spend federal funds to promote the exchange - where consumers can shop for and buy health plans - through a multi-platform advertising campaign that included television and radio spots. Open enrollment for the exchange begins Tuesday, and state officials expect 500,000 to participate.
The vote was along party lines, with 25 Republicans and one Democrat voting against the contract. Fifteen Democrats voted for it.