Decision On Arkansas Medicaid Terminations Expected Tuesday, DHS Still Building Staff

Aug 17, 2015

File photo of Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaking at the Capitol in January.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

As of Tuesday it will have been two weeks since the governor issued a two week pause in issuing Medicaid termination notices but it’s not entirely clear if the moratorium will end on schedule. Expanded staffing levels called for by the governor on August 4th are not up to scale yet either.

Department of Human Services spokeswoman Amy Webb told KUAR on Monday that she can not confirm when the two week halt is supposed to end. Webb wrote in an e-mail, “No. The Governor will decide tomorrow how he’d like us to proceed.”

Asked if Tuesday is supposed to be the official end of the two week pause on Medicaid terminations, Governor Asa Hutchinson’s spokesman J.R. Davis replied, “yes, I believe Tuesday would be the day” and noted the governor’s office will issue updates then.

The governor issued the pause in sending out Medicaid termination notices on August 4th and said he would lift a hiring freeze at DHS and hire additional staff to help meet a backlog of unprocessed information. Webb gave updates on staffing levels.

“We currently have 300 employees who have volunteered to work overtime. That overtime started last Monday and continued through the weekend. We’ve also re-assigned and trained 20 staff from within the Division of County Operations to support the call center.

We’re also in the processing of temporarily re-assigning and training 10 staff from other divisions. That all should be completed by next week.

We’re also in processing of filling vacant positions, which takes a bit more time, and hiring temporary workers. We hope to begin their training in the next couple of weeks and they will be onboard to help us complete the process and stay on schedule.

These workers will continue for at least a couple months. I don’t have all the details on this just yet.”

Hutchinson is also scheduled to speak with the Health Reform Legislative Task Force on Wednesday. That legislative body is charged with providing recommendations on the future of the state’s Medicaid program by the end of this year. Arkansas’s version of Medicaid expansion, the private option, is set to expire at the end of 2016.