LITTLE ROCK — Opponents of the so-called private option presented an alternative plan Wednesday that would stop new enrollments at the end of the fiscal year and leave it up to the 2015 Legislature to determine the program’s future.

LITTLE ROCK — Opponents of the so-called private option presented an alternative plan Wednesday that would stop new enrollments at the end of the fiscal year and leave it up to the 2015 Legislature to determine the program’s future.


Rep. Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville, and Sen. Jim Hendren, R-Gravette, who presented the proposal, said the state would have to receive a waiver from the federal government to cap enrollment at the end of the current fiscal year.


Should the state receive the waiver, those enrolled would remain in the program until the end of March 2015, giving the Legislature, which goes into session in early January, time to determine the future of the program.


If the waiver is not approved by the end of June, the entire insurance program ends, they said.


The private option uses federal Medicaid money to provide private insurance to people earning up 138 percent of poverty.


Legislation to appropriate $915 million in federal funding for the second year of program fell five votes short of passage Tuesday in the House, which was expected to vote on the legislation again Wednesday.


More than 97,000 people have enrolled in the program.


"Nobody here wants to hurt anybody," Ballinger said during a noon news conference attended by 26 House and Senate members. "What we want to do is to try to make the plan better, but in a way that I think is sustainable and last a long time."


Hendren said no one will lose their insurance under the proposal, if the state receives the federal waiver.


"This is probably the most important point for everybody to get out of this discussion," Hendren said. "Nobody that enrolls or has enrolled … until June 30 is going to lose their insurance until the Legislature comes back in 2015 and readdresses this issue."


Last week the House voted to adopt amendments to the program that uses federal Medicaid money to provide private health insurance to people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The amendments include one that would bar the state from promoting the private option and the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace.