Beebe, Dems Push New Health Care Exchange
Governor Mike Beebe continues to push health exchanges–of some form or the other–while GOP lawmakers are doing their best to hold the line against Arkansas sliding into federal control.
Back in December, Arkansas Democrats had apparently been stopped in their efforts to implement a state-run health insurance exchange.
Now Beebe has written another letter to HHS Secretary Kathryn Sebelius to begin placing Arkansas in a “hybrid” federal-state plan through HHS called the Federally-Facilitated Health Benefit Exchange (FFE).
In January, Representative Reginald Murdock (D, Marianna) spearheaded an effort in the Arkansas House encouraging them to support the FFE.
An FFE gives states some control over insurance plan selection, rating and monitoring with limited oversight, according to Alice Jones, spokesperson for the Arkansas Insurance Department; however, problem calls from Arkansas will be handled by a federal call center, rather than a local center. “When they (HHS) realized so many states weren’t going to develop state-run exchanges, they moved to this to provide some state input,” she added.
As he's done before, Representative David Meeks (R, Conway) asked why Beebe continues to push, saying “The Fed-State Partnership (FTE) is just a repackaging of what a bipartisan group of legislators already rejected. There is no reason to move forward on an exchange when the law will most likely be found unconstitutional and overturned by the Supreme Court later this year.”