Governor Signs Arkansas Works, Fight Now Moves To Appropriation

Apr 8, 2016

Gov. Asa Hutchinson signing the Arkansas Works bill Friday at the Capitol.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed into law his plan to keep and rework the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion, as he now faces a fight from fellow Republicans who want to block the program's funding.

On Friday he signed into law two bills outlining his proposed changes to the program, which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for more than 250,000 low-income residents. The program was created three years ago as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health law.

The House passed the measure Friday morning on a 68-27 vote, moments after the Senate approved an identical bill on a 25-10 vote.

The proposal will need three-fourths support during next week's fiscal session to appropriate the federal funds it will need. 

During a signing ceremony, Hutchinson urged opponents of the healthcare plan to avoid a Washington-style showdown. The Republican governor said a minority of lawmakers shouldn't be able to derail the Medicaid budget over their objections to the program, which is tied to the federal Affordable Care Act.