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Arkansas officials say nearly 70 percent of eligible have signed up for 'private option'

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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Arkansas officials say nearly 70 percent of those eligible have signed up for health coverage under the state's compromise Medicaid expansion program.

The Department of Human Services said Monday that 155,567 people have applied and been determined eligible for the state's "private option" program, which uses federal Medicaid funds to purchase private health insurance for the poor. DHS estimates that 225,000 Arkansans qualify for the program that was approved last year as an alternative to the Medicaid expansion envisioned under the federal health care law.

DHS said 64 percent of Arkansans in the program are between the ages of 19 and 44.

The Arkansas Legislature reauthorized the private option for another year last month, despite efforts by opponents to block funding for the program.

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