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Governor hopefuls discuss Medicaid plan

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By ANDREW DeMILLO
Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Mike Ross is vowing to protect the state's compromise Medicaid expansion, while Republican rival Asa Hutchinson says data should drive the debate on the program next year.

The two ex-congressmen addressed the future of the "private option" Medicaid plan in separate speeches to the Delta Grassroots Caucus on Friday. Under the private option, Arkansas is using federal Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for the poor.

Ross said he supports the program, crafted as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health law. Hutchinson said he wants to evaluate the program's progress when looking at whether to renew it next year.

The program's future is in doubt after a lawmaker who helped develop it lost his bid for a state Senate seat this week.

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