LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — One of the biggest decisions facing Arkansas legislators in this year's session is whether to expand Medicaid's eligibility under President Obama's federal health care law. Here are some of the major questions and answers about the issue:
WHERE DOES ARKANSAS STAND? — Gov. Mike Beebe has urged lawmakers to support expanding the state's Medicaid program under the federal health care law, but he faces resistance from Republicans in the House and Senate. Expanding Medicaid would require a three-fourths vote in the House and Senate.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE ON MEDICAID NOW? — Arkansas currently has about 776,000 people on Medicaid, according to the state Department of Human Services.
HOW MANY PEOPLE WOULD BE ADDED IF MEDICAID IS EXPANDED? — DHS says the state would add about 250,000 people to the Medicaid rolls if it opts for expansion. That number is made up of 215,000 people who would be newly eligible and 35,000 who are already eligible but not enrolled.
WHAT'S THE ARGUMENT FOR EXPANSION? — Beebe and state health officials argue expansion would assist the state's lowest-income workers and help hospitals save money by cutting down on the cost of care for patients without insurance. They say it would result in net savings for the state by cutting down on uncompensated care and through tax revenues related to new health care spending.
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