LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Medicaid officials said Thursday the state will submit its request to use federal money to purchase private insurance for thousands of low-income residents by August.
Department of Human Services Director John Selig told lawmakers that the state would draft its waiver next month for the "private option" that lawmakers approved as an alternative to Medicaid expansion. Selig said the state planned to submit the waiver to the federal government in August and hoped to get approval by October.
The meeting before the Senate and House public health committees was the first since lawmakers adjourned this year's session. Gov. Mike Beebe signed into law legislation setting up the private option, but the plan still requires federal approval.
The private option plan was backed by Beebe, a Democrat, and Republican legislative leaders as a conservative alternative to the Medicaid expansion called for under the federal health care law. The insurance will be purchased through the exchange set up under the federal health care law.
Under the legislation, Arkansas cannot implement the private option unless the federal government agrees to the way lawmakers envisioned the program. Selig said there's no backup plan if the federal government doesn't agree to the waiver submitted.
"Plan B under the private option is it stops," Selig told the panel.