Gov. Beebe told health care and hospital leaders that expansion of the state’s Medicaid program would be helpful to their cause and he suggested that economics, not politics, should drive the decision to grow the state program.

Beebe was speaking at the annual meeting of the Arkansas Hospital Association, where he encouraged participants to explain the importance of Medicaid to local legislators.

Rob Moritz with our content partner, the Arkansas News Bureau, reports:

“We’ve got a bunch of people running around here now beating their chests, political, that need to keep their mouth shut, get the facts and then vote their conscience on what is in the best interest of their constituents and their people,” Beebe said.

The governor added that some opponents “are painting themselves into one heck of a corner right now because they’re either going to be put in a posture where they’re going to leave Arkansas out next January, or they are going to have to go backwards from what they’re telling the voters while they are running for office, and neither one of those things … seems to be a good option.”

Rep. John Burris, R-Harrison, said any attempt by the governor to the use the Medicaid expansion debate for political purposes is “irresponsible.”

“I don’t think anyone is beating their chest. We’re trying to take our time to get important information,” he said, noting that the state faces up to a $400 million Medicaid shortfall at the end of the next fiscal year, and that there are many concerns about the management and sustainability of Medicaid.

“What we should be talking about is how we can come together in a bipartisan way and find a solution to keep providing the care for the people who are already promised care to, and that is the debate we should be having as we head into the session,” Burris said.

You can read the full story at this link.

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