Medicaid 'private option' bill delayed

    5:58 AM, Apr 13, 2013   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - House Speaker Davy Carter announced Friday a delay in the appropriation vote for the private-option bill to expand Medicaid in Arkansas.

     Like so many Americans Shelly Buonaiuto and her family felt the brunt of the 2008 economic collapse.

    "My children are artist and they were very successful artists, actually, they were selling doing really well and then in 2008 the bottom fell out of the economy," says Buonaiuto, from Fayettville.

    When the demand for art plummeted Buonaiuto's children lost their livelihoods and couldn't afford basic needs.

    "There's no way they can afford insurance," says Buonaiuto.

    Buonaiuto traveled more than three hours to the Capitol on Friday in hopes of persuading lawmakers to pass the private-option bill, but Speaker Davy Carter decided to give legislators more time to outline the details to the public.

    "There's still a lot of answers that we're waiting on, mainly from the feds. What are they really going to allow us to do," says Representative David Meeks, of Conway.

    The private option plan will use the government Medicaid funding to purchase private insurance for low-income patients. Meeks says while he agrees with the concept more work needs to be done.

    "Private insurance won't cover transportation, but with Medicaid they do have vans that go out and pick up folks if the private insurance doesn't cover that how is that going to work," says Meeks.

    Representative Charlie Collins says the framework of the bill safeguards the state.

    "If the plan comes back and the feds have lied to us, if the feds change the rules on us, if the feds don't hold up their end of the bargain no matter what we want to do the bill is killed automatically," says Collins.

    Buonaiuto hopes for a prompt vote and says either way Arkansans pay.

    "If you can't afford the hospital is going to be paying for it and the taxpayers are going to be picking it up," says Buonaiuto.
    If the house passes the bill Monday, it will still have to get the okay from the federal government.

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