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Arkansas House Votes to Fund Health Care Expansion

Second vote on measure, 77-23.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - A second House vote to fund health care expansion in Arkansas passed Tuesday morning by a vote of 77-23.

HB1219, often called the private option, funds health care for more than 250,000 uninsured residents.  The measure now moves to the Senate for approval.  It must receive three-fourths support there as well.

Tuesday's House vote came a little later that expected.  The House was set to convene promptly at 9 a.m. but things didn't get underway until roughly 9:15 a.m. Prior to the vote, a handful of lawmakers stepped up to speak for and against the bill.

Statement from House Speaker Davy Carter on passage of HB1219:
“I commend my colleagues who have just cast a difficult vote in favor of the ‘private option’. With their support, Arkansas now leads the nation with a conservative alternative to the policy forced upon us by the federal government.”

On Monday, the first vote on funding the expansion failed 69-28.  It needed a 75 vote super majority to pass.

Talking about Tuesday morning's looming vote, Governor Beebe said Monday that what would happen this morning was key to the future of the legislative session.

"If it doesn't pass then, besides a few appropriations bills and the budget, the session is over, time to go home." Beebe said Monday.  Beebe said he wouldn't call a special session to tackle the health care expansion issue.

Last night, lawmakers hosted a town hall meeting in Saline County trying to explain the private option to constituents.  At the time, many lawmakers said they believed the private option was the best plan moving forward, but they didn't want to vote against the wishes of their constituents.

The House passed the legislation enabling health care expansion last Thursday with a 62-37 vote
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