Arkansas Trucking Association

You are here: Home News In Brief ARKANSAS GOVERNOR PROPOSES TO END MEDICAID EXPANSION AFTER 2016

ARKANSAS GOVERNOR PROPOSES TO END MEDICAID EXPANSION AFTER 2016

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Predicted to run $770 million over budget, newly-elected Governor Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.) has called for the state's "private option" Medicaid expansion to continue in its current form only through 2016.

“This avoids harm to the 200,000-plus covered through the private option and assures our hospitals and providers financial stability,” Hutchinson said during an address at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

In his statement, Hutchinson also pointed out that getting rid of the program, which cut Arkansas's uninsured rate in half, might save the state some money, but it would come at an enormous cost to the thousands currently enrolled in the private option, which was implemented as an alternative to Obamacare.

Hutchinson introduced a compromise that emerged after negotiations with legislators following his election in November. It would create a task force to recommend ways to overhaul the Medicaid system more broadly.

“With regard to the private option, it is time to close this chapter and start a new one,” Hutchinson said. “While we are turning the page and starting a new effort, our innovative efforts in Medicaid reform will continue.”

The private option was championed by Hutchinson's predecessor Democratic Governor Mike Beebe who worked with Republican state legislators and the Obama administration to come up with a way to expand access to coverage for Arkansas's poor residents (those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level-around $16,000 for an individual, $33,000 for a family of four.)

Since Arkansas's private option took effect, a handful of other states that opted out of the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion have been lining up to create similar programs that allow them to expand access to coverage to their poor residents without having to subscribe to Obamacare.

Hutchinson noted that 40 percent of private option enrollees did not have a source of income when they first signed up. Outlining his own goals for future changes, he said he wants social programs to include incentives to work and pursue preventive care.

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You are here: Home News In Brief ARKANSAS GOVERNOR PROPOSES TO END MEDICAID EXPANSION AFTER 2016