NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KFSM) – Thursday (Apr. 7) the state legislature overwhelmingly approved a new hybrid Medicare expansion program, which will replace the state’s current health care plan for low income individuals.
Democrat Greg Leding said the republicans are now tasked with finding funding approval, something republican Charlie Collins said he believed would be achievable.
“The risk of skyrocketing insurance premiums for working Arkansans really makes this a must-do for us,” Collins said.
Collins said the appropriations meetings held in Little Rock next week will be where the funding for DHS will be found.
Lawmakers need a three-fourths approval rate in both the House and Senate, in order to replace the Private Option with Arkansas Works.
“I am very optimistic that we are going to get the 75% threshold in the House of Representatives,” Collins said.
The Senate, which approved the bill in a 25-10 vote, will need two opposed to the bill to approve the funding.
Funding for Arkansas Works, as well as several other health related entities like nursing homes and medicare, will fall under the DHS budget.
DHS funding will consume roughly $5 billion of the state’s $26 billion budget.
Collins said only 10% of the DHS funding would come from the federal government.
Collins warned his fellow legislators about the consequences of rejecting the DHS funding.
“Then very significant impacts are going to happen to the neediest Arkansans,” Collins said. “The last thing we need to do is slam our state with massive tax increases, by not passing the budget for DHS.”
One thing most legislators could agree upon, was the bipartisan movement to provide low-income health care to Arkansans is leading the nation in ideas to replace Obamacare with state-operated plans.