Former Gov. Beebe: New Health Care Bill Will End 'Ark. Works'

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe on Monday said the new Graham-Cassidy health care bill will end the state's Medicaid expansion.

When he signed the Medicaid expansion into law, it was known as the Private Option. It uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for low-income Arkansans. Since its creation, the Legislature and Gov. Asa Hutchinson have tweaked the program and rebranded it as Arkansas Works. 

The newest Obamacare repeal legislation being pushed in the U.S. Senate would be the end of Arkansas Works, Beebe said. 

The Democratic Party of Arkansas made the same claim on September 20. 

Beebe said the Graham-Cassidy bill would "be devastating to our citizens and our economy." 

If passed, the legislation would implement a block grant program and give funding to the states. The states would then have a wide margin to decide how that money will be spent. 

It eliminates the Obamacare individual mandate, the Medicaid expansion, tax credits, employer mandates and cost-sharing subsidies. The bill would also let states ease coverage requirements. 

"I’m proud of what we accomplished under my leadership in 2013, and I was just as proud of the work that was accomplished under Gov. Hutchinson in 2015 to continue Arkansas Works," Beebe said. 

He encouraged Arkansans to call Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), and Sen. John Boozman (R-Arkansas), to encourage them not to approve this bill. 

In response to Beebe's claims, Hutchinson released the following statement: 
“Graham-Cassidy will not end Arkansas Works as former Governor Beebe claims it would. To the contrary, Graham-Cassidy will provide Arkansas with the flexibility and authority to continue our reform efforts under Arkansas Works—creating a better system that works, that is affordable and that expands access to healthcare for all Arkansans. States are often described as laboratories of democracy—a place for innovation that meets the unique needs of its citizens. The flexibility provided to Arkansas allows the state to continue or expand reform efforts such as Arkansas Works. It is the law in Arkansas, and I am committed to its future."

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