Ark. legislators vote down Medicaid bill again

Associated Press
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Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe walks in a hallway at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., before speaking to reporters Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. Beebe commented on legislation to continue Arkansas' compromise Medicaid expansion. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas legislators have defeated for a second day in a row a compromise plan to expand Medicaid by purchasing private insurance, leaving the state's health program for poor residents in jeopardy.

The House voted 68-27 Wednesday to reauthorize funding for the "private option," falling seven votes shy of the 75 needed to continue the program. It's the second time the legislation has failed in the House, where the measure fell five votes shy on Tuesday with the same number of members voting against it.

Under the private option, Arkansas is using federal Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents. The program was approved last year as an alternative to expanding Medicaid's enrollment under the federal health law.