Well! When I was hustling from Gov. Mike Beebe‘s press conference to Speaker Davy Carter‘s press conference on Tuesday, I texted Lindsey: “everything is different.” Beebe reached a game-changing agreement with Sec. Kathleen Sebelius and the feds last Friday and shared it with lawmakers Tuesday. Employing an obscure provision of the Social Security Act, Arkansas has permission to offer health coverage to the entire expansion population through the exchange. Instead of expanding the Medicaid program, the government will pay for low-income folks to purchase private health insurance.
Local Republicans, who for months have shown no signs of buckling in their anti-Obamacare fervor, seem to be embracing the new “private option” (despite the fact that it likely costs more). Rep. John Burris, previously running a delay game, is now saying that Republicans “have a lot of ownership in this model.”
Some other good news for expansion proponents: Democrats are united in favor of it and another poll was released showing public support. And yet another Republican governor came out in favor of expansion, though at this point it’s likely to be other red states following our lead.
But the big one is the new “private option,” which has the Expand-o-meter feeling positively giddy about the chances of Medicaid expansion (or whatever we’re calling it now), leaping from the doldrums of last week to its highest point yet.