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Late News: CMS grants Ark. waiver for Medicaid expansion

By Steven Ross Johnson
Posted: September 28, 2013 - 12:01 am ET

Look for more states to warm to some sort of Medicaid expansion now that the Obama administration proved it will bend to get states on board. On Friday, the CMS granted Arkansas a Medicaid waiver allowing the state to move forward with a widely watched plan to cover an additional 200,000 residents by giving most of them premium assistance for plans in the state health insurance exchange. Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, persuaded the state's Republican-led Legislature to approve the unusual strategy to win the new federal Medicaid funding available under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act without adding to the rolls of its traditional Medicaid program. Republican governors in other states took note. The CMS is reviewing similar plans from Iowa and Pennsylvania. Under the Arkansas model, all adults making up to 138% of the federal poverty level will be eligible for coverage. Under the ACA, the CMS will provide 100% of funding for the new enrollees for three years, and Arkansas will use that funding for subsidies that help newly eligible residents buy private plans offered in the new marketplace, beginning Oct. 1. “With the Arkansas Private Option, Arkansas set an example that is still garnering national attention,” Beebe said in a radio address Friday. “Instead of railing against the federal government, we found a way to work within the system.”

—Steven Johnson

Follow Steven Ross Johnson on Twitter: @MHSjohnson

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