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Special session to discuss Medicaid expansion expected

State House Bureau

October 04. 2013 8:36PM

CONCORD ­— Senate President Chuck Morse said Friday he will do nothing to stop a special session of the legislature to act on Medicaid expansion if Gov. Maggie Hassan calls lawmakers back.

The Commission to Study Expansion of Medicaid Eligibility is in the final stages of its recommendations for expansion and meets again Tuesday to review a draft of its final report.

The commission has agreed to expand eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty level and begin Jan. 1 when the federal government begins paying 100 percent of the cost for the new enrollees.

Morse called the committee’s draft plan a good starting point, but noted the legislature has to determine the details.

“I made it clear to the governor we have goals and I think we can work together on it,” Morse said, “and that’s important.” He noted the governor responded positively.

Among the goals Morse would like is to have as many newly eligible recipients covered by private insurance as possible. Arkansas last week won federal approval for its plan to use the state’s health insurance marketplace of private insurers to cover their state’s new recipients.

“We want to make sure we look at the whole universe and talk about it,” Morse said, “but I would like to see them on private insurance.”

The committee has crafted a plan that would use both private insurance provided by employers and the state’s marketplace to cover some of those who would be eligible under expansion.

Hassan and the House favored Medicaid expansion but the Senate refused to include it in its version of the budget. When the two sides could not agree at the end of the session in June, budget negotiators agreed to form the commission which has an Oct. 15 deadline to make its final report.

Hassan is expected to call a special session of the legislature after the final report is released.

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