KASU

Arkansas Works

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.

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.

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. 


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.

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