Tag Archives: arkansas

Arkansas Medicaid expansion plan — similar to TN proposal — wins fed approval

An AP story, as appearing in the Chattanooga TFP:
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas has become the first state to win federal approval to use Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for thousands of low-income residents under the federal health care law, a proposal similar to one offered by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Friday approved the state’s request to implement a “private option” plan.

The state’s Republican-controlled Legislature and Democratic governor approved the plan earlier this year as an alternative to expanding Medicaid’s enrollment under the federal health care law. Arkansas formally submitted its request to the federal government last month.

Tennessee is among several other states considering similar ideas as an alternative to expanding Medicaid, and supporters of the president’s health overhaul have pointed to Arkansas as a Republican-trending state that is implementing the law

From a Washington Post blog on the “weird trick” Arkansas’ plan involves:
Arkansas will be the only state in the country that will use Medicaid dollars to purchase private health insurance for its new public program enrollees.

“CMS is pleased to approve Arkansas’s Medicaid 1115 Waiver application,” Medicare spokeswoman Emma Sandoe said in a statement. “Arkansas and CMS worked together to find flexibilities that gave the state the tools to build a program that worked for them and their residents. We appreciate the collaboration with Arkansas throughout the process and applaud their commitment to providing Arkansans with access to high-quality health coverage.”

There are about 200,000 Arkansans who qualify for the Medicaid expansion. Instead of having them enroll in the public program, like other states will do, Arkansas will send them to their new health insurance marketplace to buy individual plans. When they get to the point of purchase, the Medicaid agency will foot the tab for their health insurance coverage.

The Arkansas expansion will start open enrollment just five days from now, on Oct. 1, alongside the 25 other states planning to expand the program. Benefits will begin Jan. 1.

News release from Arkansas governor’s office:
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Mike Beebe received a call Friday morning from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius informing him that the Medicaid waiver request, which is needed to implement the Arkansas Private Option, has received official federal approval.

“Arkansas came up with its own plan to expand Medicaid using the private-insurance market, and Secretary Sebelius and her team worked to ensure that we had the flexibility to make that plan a reality,” Governor Beebe said. “Our actions have drawn positive attention from across the country, and now we will focus on getting this insurance to the Arkansans who need it to lead healthier, more productive lives. Hopefully, this bipartisan, intergovernmental achievement can be an example for Congress as the government shutdown looms.”

The Arkansas Private Option will use federal Medicaid funds to provide insurance-premium assistance to more than 200,000 Arkansans living near or below the Federal Poverty Line. It is part of the State’s Health Insurance Marketplace, which becomes active on October 1st. Arkansans can get information and personalized help through the Arkansas Health Connector, available online at arhealthconnector.org, or by calling

Medicaid Expansion: Arkansas Plan Eyed; Shelby Mayor Backs It

Gov. Bill Haslam’s health policy specialists are probing into what Arkansas is doing with respect to increasing Medicaid coverage as part of federal Affordable Care Act reform initiatives, according to TNReport.
During a press conference last week in Nashville, Tennessee’s Republican chief executive said his administration is “learning some things” from policies being pursued under Obamacare by Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat.
Beebe appears to have secured approval from the Obama administration to funnel federal dollars earmarked for Medicaid expansions into private insurance for those eligible. According to the Washington Post’s “Wonkblog” today, other states considering such an approach are Florida, Ohio, Louisiana and Maine and perhaps even Texas.
…Republicans in the Tennessee Legislature are divided between those who want to inoculate Tennessee against Obamacare to the greatest extent possible, and those who’re inclined to defer to Gov. Haslam to prescribe policy treatments that best suit the state’s unique conditions.
“Nobody likes the idea of just a sort of blanket Obamacare expansion, but that’s not what the governor is looking at,” said Mark Norris, the Tennessee Senate majority leader. “He’s real curious about what is happening in Arkansas, with their initiative to use Medicaid dollars for private insurance.”
Norris said he doesn’t anticipate Haslam making any decisions that could potentially put state government over a financial barrel. “He’s doing his due diligence. He’s doing what a good governor ought to do,” said the Republican from Collierville.
Norris added, “I have enough respect for the separation of powers and the three branches of government, and this particular governor, to wait and let him reach his own decision before we jump in and try to preempt something that he may never do anyway.”


And from the Commercial Appeal:
Shelby County’s Mayor Mark Luttrell has encouraged Gov. Bill Haslam to pursue expansion of Tennessee’s Medicaid program, saying in a letter that the benefits of extending health coverage to 60,000 to 80,000 additional low-income Shelby County residents outweigh the concerns.
The mayor, like Haslam a Republican, also said the impacts of not participating in the Medicaid expansion authorized by President Obama’s Affordable Care Act “would be damaging to The Med, if not devastating.”

Wolfe Loses Court Appeal for Arkansas Delegates

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal appeals court has dismissed the appeal of a Tennessee lawyer who was denied Arkansas delegates despite winning 42 percent of the vote in the Democratic Party’s presidential primary.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed John Wolfe’s appeal on Wednesday, the day after President Barack Obama was re-elected.
The court says Wolfe didn’t respond to an order last month.
Wolfe filed a notice of appeal in federal court last month after a federal judge dismissed his lawsuit against the Arkansas Democratic Party.
The judge said Wolfe couldn’t prove that the state party violated his rights when it refused to award him any delegates.
The party says Wolfe didn’t follow party rules.
Wolfe didn’t respond to a phone message left Wednesday.

Wolfe Sues Arkansas Democrats, Says Louisiana Next

John Wolfe Jr. filed suit in Federal District Court in Little Rock, Ark., Friday afternoon against the Arkansas Democratic Party claiming its refusal to grant him the delegates he won Tuesday in a binding presidential primary “effectively disenfranchises each of the 67,604 voters who cast a vote for Wolfe.”
More from the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Wolfe, a Chattanooga attorney who won 42 percent in a head-to-head contest against President Barack Obama, also claims in his lawsuit that the announcement by the Arkansas Democratic Party in advance of the primary that it would not grant him any delegates no matter how well he did in the voting was “a purposeful attempt to tamp down voter enthusiasm for Wolfe in order to ensure a primary victory for Barack Obama,” and amounted to “a callous interference in the electoral process” and a “deliberate violation” of Wolfe’s due process rights.
Wolfe said he plans to file a similar suit against the Louisiana Democratic Party for its failure to grant him his proportional share of the delegates in the three congressional districts in which he won more than 15 percent of the vote Louisiana’s March 24 Democratic primary.

Wolfe Gets 42% Vs. Obama in Arkansas (he had only 7 write-ins in TN)

In Kentucky’s closed primary, about 42 percent of registered Democrats who voted selected “uncommitted.” In Arkansas’ open primary, voters could select a ballot for either party, and unofficial returns showed a Tennessee attorney, John Wolfe, drawing almost 42 percent on the Democratic side.
On the Republican side, Romney won Arkansas with 68 percent of the vote and Kentucky with 67 percent, according to unofficial returns.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich were on the ballot in both states. Santorum and Gingrich have both suspended their campaigns. Paul announced last week that he would no longer compete in the primaries, though he is still trying to amass national delegates at state conventions.

Note: Wolfe, who lives in Chattanooga and has run unsuccessfully for various offices in Tennessee (including the 3rd Congressional District seat), got just seven write-in votes in Tennessee’s March 6 presidential primary. President Obama, the only candidate on the Democratic ballot, got 80,705 votes while 10,497, or 13 percent, voted “uncommitted.”
See also the Chattanooga Times-Free Press story on Wolfe’s Arkansas showing, written before the final results were in.
Wolfe said Tuesday the voters should pick their candidate, not party bosses.
“They are treating this election like the coronation of a king, but this country declared war on that kind of monarchy rule in 1776,” Wolfe said.
Wolfe ran unsuccessfully for Congress four times in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District and also lost in his bids for Chattanooga mayor and state senator from Chattanooga. His campaigns are largely self-financed, and he said he has had to continue his law practice in Chattanooga while campaigning in presidential primaries in New Hampshire, Louisiana, Arkansas and, next week, in Texas.
“I’m like David fighting Goliaths in these races, but so far I haven’t found the right pebble [to strike down Goliath],” Wolfe said. “I know a lot of people don’t like what the president has done, including me.”