Arkansas Panel Nearing Decision On Medicaid Expansion

Dec 15, 2015

Health Care Task Force Chair, Senate Majority Leader Jim Hendren (R-Gravette) during a break in the meeting (file photo).
Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

A task force is finalizing its recommendations on the future of Arkansas' hybrid Medicaid expansion, which the state's Republican governor has said he wants to keep but with new restrictions on its benefits and eligibility.

The Health Reform Legislative Task Force on Tuesday kicked off three days of hearings to talk about the future of the "private option" expansion, which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents. The program was crafted as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health law.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has proposed keeping the expansion, but wants to rename it and impose new restrictions such as a limit on beneficiaries' assets and a lifetime cap on benefits. The panel is also looking at broader changes to the Medicaid program.