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Medicaid

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on March 6, 2017, presenting his proposed changes to the state's Medicaid-expansion program, which included the addition of a work requirement.
MICHAEL HIBBLEN / KUAR NEWS

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas officials say the website that people on the state's expanded Medicaid program use to report work activities under a new requirement to keep their coverage is experiencing "sporadic" issues.

Arkansas’s newly-implemented work requirement for recipients of the state’s Medicaid expansion program is the subject of a new federal lawsuit seeking to remove the requirement.

The lawsuit was filed by the National Health Law Program, Legal Aid of Arkansas, and the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of three recipients of the state’s expanded Medicaid program, known as Arkansas Works. The suit, filed in United States District Court for the District of Columbia, names U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma as plaintiffs.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on March 6, 2017, presenting his proposed changes to the state's Medicaid-expansion program, which included the addition of a work requirement.
MICHAEL HIBBLEN / KUAR NEWS

Gov. Asa Hutchinson offered a steady dose of good news concerning the state’s healthcare marketplace on Friday (Aug. 3), highlighted by new year-ending data showing Medicaid spending in Arkansas in fiscal 2018 was flat or near negative growth for the first time in recent memory.

Dr. Joe Thompson, CEO of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement and former Arkansas Surgeon General
Talk Business and Politics

Former Arkansas Surgeon General Dr. Joe Thompson is still plenty active on a variety of healthcare topics.  He remains the CEO of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement.  A recent Kentucky legal ruling has complicated that state’s work requirement for Medicaid expansion—a system that was similar to the federally approved Arkansas Works work requirement.  Talk Business’ Roby Brock sits with Thompson to discuss how the Kentucky ruling could impact Arkansas.


Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on March 6, 2017, presenting his proposed changes to the state's Medicaid-expansion program, which included the addition of a work requirement.
MICHAEL HIBBLEN / KUAR NEWS

Unless there has been a rush of people this week who successfully logged on to a state website before a 9 p.m. deadline Thursday, thousands of Arkansas Works enrollees will be out of compliance with a newly enacted work requirement.

(L to R) Ray Hanley, Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care CEO; Marquita Little, Health Policy Advisor for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families; and Roby Brock, Talk Business & Politics.
Talk Business and Politics

Ray Hanley with Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care and Marquita Little with Arkansas Advocates for Children & Families discuss with Roby Brock of Talk Business a new Arkansas Works study that examines how the work requirement for Medicaid will impact Arkansans.


Arkansas is one of just a few states that is choosing to implement work-related requirements, in order for people to keep getting health insurance through Medicaid. The state also stands out for requiring that the verification process be done online.

That could mean trouble for low-income beneficiaries, who happen to live in a state with some of the worst access to the internet in the nation. The rollout of the new requirements begins June 1st.

Arkansas is at the forefront of a national experiment to see whether requiring work for health care coverage helps lift people out of poverty.

 

Starting next month, many who are on the state’s low-income health care program, Arkansas Works, must show they are working, volunteering, in school, or getting job training for at least 80 hours each month. The Arkansas Department of Human Services estimates 42,000 Arkansans will be impacted.

Tennessee State Capitol
Wikipedia

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee's Republican-led House has passed legislation seeking federal approval to ban TennCare payments to abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood, for non-abortion services.

NPR

Arkansas Department of Human Services Director Cindy Gillespie was in a cheerful mood by week’s end as the Arkansas legislature undramatically passed her agency’s often-controversial budget thanks to federal officials approving one of the state’s two major waiver requests for Medicaid expansion.

Arkansas State Capitol
Wikipedia.org

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas lawmakers voted Wednesday to keep the state's Medicaid expansion another year after federal officials said the state can require people on the program to work or volunteer to keep their coverage.

The Trump administration’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has at long-last made its decision to add a work requirement for certain low-income people if they way to keep getting health insurance through Arkansas’s version of Medicaid expansion, known as Arkansas Works. The announcement was made Monday at the state’s Capitol building.

CMS Director Seema Verma personally signed and hand-delivered the federal agency’s letter to Governor Asa Hutchinson granting the state’s request.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on March 6, 2017, presenting his proposed changes to the state's Medicaid-expansion program, which included the addition of a work requirement.
MICHAEL HIBBLEN / KUAR NEWS

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A top Trump administration official is visiting Arkansas next week as state leaders await word on requests to impose a work requirement and scale back the eligibility of its Medicaid expansion, Gov. Asa Hutchinson's office said Friday.

(left to right) Arkansas state Senate President Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy) & Arkansas state House Speaker Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia)
Talk Business and Politics

The legislative session in Little Rock is winding down.  State lawmakers optimistically think they may complete their work by week's end.  But, don't hold your breath.  The big issue holding everything up is Arkansas Works.  Are there enough votes to pass the funding bill for the state's controversial Medicaid expansion program?  Roby Brock with Talk Business and Politics sits down with state House Speaker Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia) and state Senate President Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy) to find out. 


Arkansas lawmakers have a couple more weeks in this year’s budgeting session to re-approve funding for Arkansas Works, the state’s healthcare program for low-income people. Yet, a handful of state senators and their votes to continue the program remain on the fence.

Arkansas Works  covers about 285,564 low-income people. It also brings in federal dollars that are important to the state budget. The Arkansas Department of Human Services says it would cost the state $148.9 million extra in fiscal year 2019 to continue serving the program’s population without the federal match from Arkansas Works.

Pixabay

State Sen. Ron Caldwell, R-Wynne, and Rep. Vivian Flowers, D-Pine Bluff, both contend that a path for passage of Arkansas Works exists in this fiscal session, but both say their votes are dependent on how federal waivers will affect the program. The two Delta legislators also said they have stipulations before agreeing to any future tax cuts, such as the $180 million top income tax bracket reduction pushed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

John Brummett, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist
Talk Business and Politics

The fiscal session has begun.  That means all eyes are on the state capitol to see if the Arkansas Works program can survive another close vote for passage, despite the loss of several "yes" votes in the Senate due to deaths and resignations.  Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist John Brummett sits down with Roby Brock of Talk Business to discuss the topic and pay tribute to longtime Parliamentarian of the House Representatives, Tim Massanelli.  Massanelli passed away last week. 


Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on March 6, 2017, presenting his proposed changes to the state's Medicaid-expansion program, which included the addition of a work requirement.
MICHAEL HIBBLEN / KUAR NEWS

Where will the votes come from for Arkansas Works in the upcoming fiscal session? Gov. Asa Hutchinson says it’s less about lawmakers changing their minds and more about reforming a program to satisfy conservative principles.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Recent state figures show the average cost per person of subsidized private health insurance under Arkansas Works increased more than 14 percent last month.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the spike is in part due to premium increases that had taken effect Jan. 1.

Arkansas Sen. Johnathan Dismang (R-Searcy)
Talk Business and Politics

Senate President Jonathan Dismang, R-Searcy, said he believes the votes for Arkansas Works will be found in the upcoming fiscal session and prospects for a special session to deal with a failed vote or other issues is not a goal of his.

Updated at 11:29 a.m. ET

The Trump administration is encouraging states to require "able-bodied" Medicaid recipients to work or volunteer in order to keep their health insurance coverage.

On Thursday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, issued new guidelines for states that want some adults to work in exchange for the health insurance coverage.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas' governor is proposing a $5.6 billion budget that increases funding for the state's Medicaid program and sets aside surplus money for future tax cuts and highway needs.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday proposed increasing state spending for the fiscal year that begins July 1 by nearly $173 million. Most of that increase goes toward Medicaid. Hutchinson said the funding increase is lower than what was originally proposed for the program last year.

The governor of Arkansas is touting an 11 percent drop in the state's Medicaid rolls over the past year as he faces another potential fight in keeping the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion alive another year.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Thursday that enrollment in the state's Medicaid program dropped by more than 117,000 people from 2017 to 2018. Nearly 59,000 of that came from the state's hybrid expansion, which uses Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The top Republican in Arkansas' Senate says he expects lawmakers to begin modifying the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion even before the future of the federal health law that enabled the expanded insurance program is settled in Washington.