LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -

Governors from three Southern states that expanded Medicaid say there are economic and moral arguments for embracing a key part of the federal health overhaul, despite strong political opposition to the law in the region.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear on Saturday talked about the benefits their states have seen from expanding Medicaid under the federal health overhaul. The three participated in a panel about Arkansas' compromise Medicaid expansion at the Southern Governors' Association annual meeting in downtown Little Rock.

Under Arkansas' "private option" Medicaid expansion, the state is using federal funds to purchase insurance for low-income workers. More than 183,000 people are enrolled in the program.