Model Arkansas way of expanding Medicaid at risk

by Andrew Demillo

Less than a year after its approval, Arkansas' much-heralded plan to expand Medicaid by buying private insurance for the poor instead of adding them to the rolls is on the brink of being abandoned. Supporters are worried that they won't have enough votes to keep the program alive after the Legislature convenes Monday.

Arkansas' plan would use federal money to purchase the policies for those who became eligible under the new health care law. Many Republicans believe will manage the benefits more efficiently than the Medicaid program. Arkansas' approach is being considered by other conservative states weighing a Medicaid expansion.

But Republican antagonism to President Barack Obama's health overhaul is intensifying. Health experts are watching to see if Arkansas' decision on its plan affects other states' actions.

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