Health reform task force endorses governor's plan

berita int

The legislative task force charged with reforming Arkansas' Medicaid expansion put their stamp of approval on Governor Asa Hutchinson's plans for overhauling the program on Wednesday.

Hutchinson told the task force on Wednesday he wants to begin negotiating for federal government waivers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and needed the task force's support to move forward in doing so.

Hutchinson proposed $835 to $843 million dollars over five years in potential savings from traditional Medicaid to contend with the costs the state will eventually bear when it has to start contributing to the costs of the Medicaid expansion in 2017.

"You've worked hard, you've done your due diligence, but right now it is time to make a decisive statement giving me the authorization to pursue these waivers that are needed," Gov. Hutchinson said. "If you do not have that authorization today, then that's going to put us behind the curve."

The savings Hutchinson proposed come from various areas of Medicaid over five years: $250 million from long term care, $20 million from dental, $110 million from pharmacy, $231 million from behavioral health and $232 million from developmentally disabled. Hutchinson said he was "open" on how to achieve those savings.

Hutchinson also outlined other reforms such as encouraging employer based insurance, creating mandatory employer sponsored premium assistance. He has also proposed requiring work training referrals, premium payments for those with incomes above 100 percent of the poverty level and putting caps on coverage for those not working.

The task force approved the Stephen Group to help with finding potential savings. The Governor said he'll call a special fiscal session to deal with the Medicaid reform savings after the March primaries.