Jessica M. Karmasek May 9, 2013, 7:30pm

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Legal Newsline) -- Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, in an opinion Tuesday, rejected the wording of a proposed ballot measure on a "private option" law that state legislators approved this year as an alternative to expanding Medicaid's enrollment.

The proposal asked voters to approve a new law that would use federal Medicaid money to buy private insurance for low-income residents.

The ballot title read, as follows:

Arkansas faced with the disruptive challenges from federal legislation called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Arkansas 89th General Assembly passed HB1143 now known as Act 1498 The Healthcare Independence Act of 2013.

The 89th General Assembly has asserted its responsibility for local control and innovation to achieve health care access, improved health care quality, reduce traditional Medicaid enrollment, remove disincentives for work and social mobility, and required cost-containment. It is the intent of the General Assembly that the State of Arkansas through the Department of Human Services shall utilize a private insurance option for "low-risk" adults.

The Department of Human Services shall develop a model and seek from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services all necessary waivers and approvals to allow non-aged, non-disabled program-eligible participants to enroll in a program that will create and utilize Independence Accounts that operate similar to a Health Savings Account or Medical Savings Account during the calendar year 2015.

The ballot title, along with its popular name, was submitted by Glenn Gallas of Hot Springs. Gallas formed a group called Arkansans Against Big Government, which opposes the private option law.

McDaniel, in his five-page opinion, rejected the proposed ballot measure due to the title's "insufficiency."

"Having analyzed your proposed popular name and ballot title under the above precepts, I must reject your submission for its failure to summarize the substance of the legislation you wish to refer to the voters," the attorney general wrote.

"The ballot title you have submitted is so sketchy that a reasonable voter cannot be expected to comprehend the scope of the measure he or she is being asked to approve or reject. Your submission does little more than repeat certain rhetorically laden passages that mark the introduction to the referred legislation, leaving unaddressed the substantive provisions that lie at the measure's heart or the effects of these provisions on current law."

Read the attorney general's full opinion here.

The wording of the ballot measure must be certified by the Attorney General's Office before supporters can start gathering signatures to place it on next year's ballot.

McDaniel instructed Gallas to "redesign" and resubmit the ballot title.

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