LITTLE ROCK — The House on Thursday approved legislation for using Medicaid funds to subsidize private insurance for thousands of low-income Arkansans.

By a vote of 62-37 on House Bill 1143, the House joined the Senate in approving enabling legislation for the so-called private option — proposed as Arkansas’ novel alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act. The Senate earlier passed a Senate bill mirroring HB 1143.

Another critical vote on health care expansion is scheduled to come Friday when the House considers an appropriation bill that would clear the way for the state to use federal money for the program. Passage would require a three-fourths majority, or 75 votes in the 100-member House — 13 more votes that the enabling legislation got Thursday.

House Speaker Davy Carter, R-Cabot, who favors the private option, has said repeatedly expressed confidence that the spending bill will pass.