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Former Bush Cabinet Official: "Stick With It" on Private Option

A former Governor under contract with the state urged Arkansas lawmakers on Thursday to renew the "private option" for health care next month.
Little Rock -- (KARK)  A former governor under contract with the state urged Arkansas lawmakers on Thursday to renew the "private option" for health care next month.

Michael O. Leavitt served as governor in Utah and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush.

His firm, Leavitt Partners, was hired to help the state implement other parts of the Healthcare Independence Act of 2013, commonly referred to as the "private option."

Leavitt told lawmakers he speaks to states around the country about Medicaid reform and each ask about the changes made by the Arkansas legislature in 2013.

"The United States of America and I underscore united states, are watching," Leavitt says.

The private option health care plan requires 75% approval from both the House and Senate to continue beyond the fiscal year that ends June 30.

State representative Kim Hammer, R-Benton, says he remains against the private option but said Thursday he's hopeful an alternative can be developed.

"We cant just be against private option for the sake of being against private option," Hammer says. "The buzz is that there's a plan being developed. Time will tell whether it surfaces or not."

The Department of Human Services says more than 80,000 Arkansans obtained health coverage on January 1st because of the creation of the private option.
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