Arkansas lawmakers seek more details on Medicaid

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 17, 2013 at 4:24 pm •  Published: January 17, 2013
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Rep. John Burris, R-Harrison, who chairs the House Public Health Committee, said that a lower-than-expected shortfall makes the challenge of resolving the Medicaid shortfall significantly "more manageable."

He said it's possible that lawmakers would use the state's projected $300 million surplus to cover the entire Medicaid shortfall. Beebe's budget already calls for using nearly half of the surplus to help the program. But he added there is also strong interest in making reforms to make the program more efficient.

"There's a lot more we can do to make the system more efficient," he said Tuesday, without citing specific changes he'd like to make. "We'll be having that debate in the coming weeks."

Selig told members of the House panel Thursday that while there was always room for improvement, the state's Medicaid program is already "very lean" compared with other states.

Beebe, a Democrat, said he believed there was enough time during the session to answer lawmakers' questions about the proposed expansion. He urged lawmakers to back the expanded eligibility in his State of the State address earlier this week.

"You've got to answer tons of questions," Beebe told reporters. "People have got to have the ability to ask and answer every question they want asked and answered before you start messing with anything else."

Republicans have generally opposed expansion, but Lamoureux and other GOP leaders have left open the possibility of a compromise that would allow some form of it in exchange for changes to the program that they believe would save money.

The Arkansas House and Senate recessed on Thursday for a four-day weekend to mark the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and planned to return to the Capitol Tuesday.