"They're wanting to tell us they're going to solve the immediate Medicaid crisis by expanding Medicaid and that's not what we want to hear," he said. "We want to hear how to solve the Medicaid crisis right now by itself."
Rep. Greg Leding, the House Democratic leader, said he believed the cuts make a strong argument for expanding Medicaid's eligibility.
"I think we help another group of vulnerable people and help protect those people who rely on and need these nursing home services," said Leding, D-Fayetteville.
Lamoureux and other Republican leaders said they want to look in other parts of the state's budget to see if there are other cuts that could be made to help save some of the Medicaid services. Beebe, who is expected to unveil his budget proposal on Thursday, said there's little room outside Medicaid and public schools to look for additional money.
Another option, DHS officials say, may be through a request Beebe has made to the federal government for a "global waiver" that would give the state more flexibility on how it uses federal Medicaid funds but would put a cap on its spending over the next eight years. DHS Director John Selig said that flexibility could allow the state to require co-pays for some Medicaid recipients, an idea backed by some GOP lawmakers.
Beebe wrote in an Oct. 29 letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that the waiver would allow the state to avoid the cuts and work on efforts to change the way Medicaid pays for services.
"By avoiding the chaos of crippling program cuts and continuing on our payment improvement path, we can commit to fully implementing Medicaid expansion, a goal I know you share," Beebe wrote in the letter, released Wednesday by his office.
Andrew DeMillo can be reached at www.twitter.com/ademillo