Gov. Beebe all in on Medicaid Expansion

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Gov. Mike Beebe said he’s firmly committed to the expansion of Arkansas’ Medicaid program under a provision allowed by the new federal healthcare law.

Beebe recently received formal word from the federal government that Arkansas could opt out of an expansion of its Medicaid program in future years. Beebe told reporters on Tuesday (Sept. 11) he thinks it will help people currently without insurance.

“He’s confirmed that nothing else is in the way to endorsing full expansion of Medicaid,” Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample tells Talk Business.

Arkansas officials estimate expanding Medicaid could help insure another 250,000 uninsured Arkansans and could create $372 million in savings to the state’s program. GOP lawmakers have expressed skepticism at the estimate and say they have concerns about the costs of expansion.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June upheld the individual mandate portion of the federal health care law. It also said states could not be penalized for opting out of a provision calling for expansion of Medicaid, a health insurance partnership between the states and federal government to help poorer citizens.

Beebe has said often that while the federal government will pay 100% of the costs of expansion from 2014 though 2017, he wanted the option for the state to opt out once Arkansas would be required to pay a portion of the costs, assuming a financial burden might complicate its participation.

Over the next few months, Beebe is expected to share information and facts throughout the state, DeCample said.

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