LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas lawmakers on Tuesday approved spending nearly $16.5 million in federal funds to continue setting up a marketplace where more than 500,000 people can shop for insurance under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
The Arkansas Legislative Council approved spending two grants from the federal government for Arkansas to set up its insurance exchange. The state has received more than $43 million in federal funds for the exchange.
The panel, which meets when the Legislature isn’t in session, approved the grants on a 23-9 vote despite objections from some Republicans lawmakers over implementing the health care law in the state.
“The concerns are the same as they’ve always been,” said Rep. Debra Hobbs, R-Rogers, who voted against the grants. “We’re taking a lot of federal dollars that the federal government doesn’t have, and I’m wondering how wisely we’re spending those dollars.”
Cynthia Crone, who leads the Insurance Department’s Health Benefits Exchange Partnership division, said the funds will help the state as it moves toward the start of open enrollment for the exchange in October. The state this summer is hiring more than 600 people to help enroll people for the insurance exchange.