Arkansas lawmakers approve contract with consultant looking at future of Medicaid plan

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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Arkansas lawmakers have approved a $1 million contract with a consultant looking at the future of the state's compromise Medicaid expansion, but the House speaker says he'll recommend working with another firm as well.

The Arkansas Legislative Council on Friday approved the contract with the New Hampshire-based Stephen Group. The consultant will study the state's Medicaid program and recommend alternatives to the state's "private option" Medicaid expansion. The private option uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents.

A task force looking at the private option's future approved the contract, but the chairmen of the panel had recommended the council not sign off on the agreement.

Speaker Jeremy Gillam said he'll recommend the task force consider signing with another consultant to also study the Medicaid program.

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