Divided Arkansas House gives final OK to keeping Medicaid expansion

(AP)- Arkansas lawmakers have voted to continue the state's
Medicaid expansion another year after federal officials approved a plan to impose a work requirement on the program. The Arkansas House approved Senate Bill 30 by a 79-15 vote Wednesday. The measure needed at least 75 votes to pass.As was the case in the Senate, local Representatives were divided on the measure. Representative Scott Baltz, Representative Jack Fortner and Representative Michelle Gray voted in favor. Baltz's district includes portions of Baxter, Fulton, Sharp and Randolph counties. Fortner's district includes portions of Baxter, Marion, Boone and Searcy counties. Gray's district includes portions of Izard, Sharp, Stone and Independence counties.Representative Nelda Speaks, whose district includes a portion of Baxter County, voted against the expansion. John Payton also voted against. Payton's district includes portions of Baxter, Marion, Stone, Searcy and Cleburne counties.

The state's Medicaid program and the expansion uses federal and state funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents. The bill now heads to the governor's desk.

The Trump administration earlier this week approved Arkansas' request to
require thousands on the Medicaid expansion to work or volunteer. Arkansas is the third state allowed to impose a work requirement on Medicaid.

More than 285,000 people are on the program, which was created as an
alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health care law.

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