By ANDREW DeMILLO
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- Arkansas has been given conditional approval to establish a partnership with the federal government for its insurance exchange under the health care law.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday approved Arkansas' plans to opt for a partnership model of the exchange, in which households and private businesses shop for private coverage. Gov. Mike Beebe opted for the partnership model after Republican lawmakers blocked legislation to set up a state-run exchange in the 2011 session.
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In a letter to Beebe, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the state must sign a memorandum of understanding with the federal government on functions of the partnership by Feb. 15.
The partnership option allows states to handle consumer relations and oversight of health plans.
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