Update: 5th House Vote for Private Option Funding Passes

Update (March 4):
LITTLE ROCK, AR - Lawmakers in the Arkansas House approved Medicaid expansion spending on Tuesday with a 76-24 vote in support of the private option.

The vote clears the way for the budget session to wrap either late this week or early next week.

The Arkansas House failed the appropriation four times last month on consecutive days before three members voted "yes" for the first time on Tuesday.

House speaker Davy Carter, R-Cabot, told reporters the vote continues a program allowing Arkansas to use federal dollars from the Affordable Care Act and place uninsured on private health plans.

"I hope the rest of the country is watching because Arkansas has tackled this issue, in my opinion, together better than anybody else in the nation has," Carter says.

Update (Feb 21):
LITTLE ROCK, AR - A fourth vote in the Arkansas House of Representatives has failed to approve the Private Option funding bill.

This morning's vote of 71-18 was 4 votes short for approval. 

The House will take another vote on Tuesday afternoon.

Update (Feb 20):
LITTLE ROCK, AR - A third vote in the Arkansas House of Representatives has failed to approve the Private Option funding bill.

This time around the vote was 72-25. 

Earlier today, the Arkansas Senate passed the bill with a vote of 27-8.

Update (Feb 19):
LITTLE ROCK, AR - For a second consecutive day, the Arkansas House failed an appropriation funding Medicaid expansion.

The House voted 68-27 for the Department of Human Services budget, which includes a $915 million in federal spending for the "private option."

House speaker Davy Carter, R-Cabot, said despite the vote failing again, progress is being made.

"I'm 100% confident we will pass the appropriation," Carter says.

Meanwhile, a group of senators and representatives opposed to the private option say they would like to see an alternative approved ending the private option in March 2015.

Representative Bob Ballinger (R-Hindsville), says its difficult to break the "status quo" at the state capitol.

"What I'd really like to see is a situation where may be able to sit down and create an alternative that later on will enable some new ideas to come to the program," Ballinger says.

Carter, a fellow Republican says that is not going to happen.

"It takes 51 votes to get anything passed around here," Carter says. "You can't achieve that result by holding the budget process hostage."

Original story (Feb. 18):
LITTLE ROCK, AR -- The Private Option did not get enough votes from the Arkansas House on Tuesday, according to reports.

There were 27 against and 70 in favor, five short of the necessary 75 needed to pass.

The House will vote again Wednesday. 

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