Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaks during a press conference at the Erie Family Health Center on February 13, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Sebelius, with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, used the opportunity to promote cooperation between states and the federal government in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Governor Mike Beebe has received a letter from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius expressing conceptual support for Arkansas's private option for expanding insurance coverage. The letter comes in response to a memo Arkansas sent to federal officials on March 13, generally outlining the Health Insurance Marketplace developed by legislators and the Beebe administration.
Secretary Sebelius' letter reads, in part:
"On behalf of the Administration, I would like to express our interest in the innovative approach to further expanding access to health insurance coverage through plans participating in the Health Insurance Marketplace that Arkansas is considering...
The concept in the memo appears to be generally consistent with the requirements of the Medicaid statute; we look forward to reviewing your demonstration proposal."
"This is the written confirmation we've anticipated after our February meeting in Washington, D.C. Now it's time for action in Arkansas," Beebe said. "Members of the General Assembly and my administration have built a model that will provide working Arkansans with greater access to health care through private-sector insurance companies. Our innovative approach can create a national example of a state using Medicaid premium-assistance funds in an insurance marketplace that best serves its citizens."
Legislative leaders are in the final stages of preparing bill language to accompany the required supermajority vote to use the federal funding. Beebe remains cautiously optimistic that support for the Arkansas private option continues to build.