Arkansas panel OKs bill to seek federal approval to freeze enrollment in Medicaid plan

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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — A Senate panel has advanced legislation requiring Arkansas to seek federal approval to freeze enrollment in the state's compromise Medicaid expansion, despite state officials saying such a move isn't possible.

The Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee on Wednesday endorsed a bill requiring the state to seek federal approval by the end of the year to halt enrollment in the "private option." Under the private option, Arkansas is using federal Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for the poor.

The Legislature voted last month to reauthorize the program another year.

State officials have said the federal government has told them freezing enrollment in the program isn't possible, but supporters of the bill say they still want the state to make a formal request.

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