The Latest: Hutchinson uses veto to save Medicaid program

AP News
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Posted: Apr 21, 2016 5:27 PM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Latest on the effort to preserve Arkansas' hybrid Medicaid program expansion (all times local):

4:20 p.m.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has preserved Arkansas' hybrid Medicaid expansion by voiding part of a budget bill that would have ended the subsidized insurance for more than 250,000 poor people.

Hutchinson on Thursday vetoed a provision in a Medicaid budget bill that ordered a Dec. 31 end to the program, which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for the poor.

Arkansas was the first state to win approval for its hybrid Medicaid program, created three years ago as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under President Barack Obama's health care law.

Hutchinson's veto ended a standoff over the program. A handful of Republicans had earlier tried to block the program by refusing to approve a Medicaid budget bill that funded it.

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2:20 p.m.

Arkansas lawmakers have approved a plan to preserve the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion, backing an unusual tactic requiring a veto from Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson to save the program covering more than 250,000 poor people.

The House on Thursday voted 76-13 with 11 voting present to approve a Medicaid budget bill that would end the program using federal funds to purchase private insurance on Dec. 31. The budget measure needed at least 75 votes. Hutchinson has promised to issue a line-item veto on the Dec. 31 date, which would effectively preserve the program because he likely has enough legislative support to uphold that decision.

Hutchinson and legislative leaders pushed for the veto plan after conservative Republicans blocked the Senate from voting by the required three-fourths majority to fund it.

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6 a.m.

The Arkansas House is taking up a plan allowing Gov. Asa Hutchinson to continue the state's first-in-the-nation hybrid Medicaid expansion despite lawmakers voting to end the program.

The House planned to vote Thursday on a Medicaid budget bill that sets a Dec. 31 end date for the program, which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for the poor. The budget measure, which was approved by the Senate Wednesday, needs at least 75 votes.

Hutchinson, a Republican, has promised to veto the defunding provision and he's expected to have more than enough votes in the Legislature to uphold that decision. Hutchinson and legislative leaders pushed for the line-item veto plan after the Medicaid budget bill with the expansion funded fell short of the three-fourths votes needed in the Senate.