Tennessee State Capitol

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.


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

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.


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.


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. 


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.