Hutchinson Working With Lawmakers To Prepare Bills For Healthcare Session

File photo of Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaking to reporters in January 2015.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he’s confident Arkansas legislators will continue the state’s Medicaid expansion program with his proposed changes. But some lawmakers are more iffy about implementing a managed care program.

A special session on the topic is to begin April 6. The governor says he’s working with lawmakers now to draft the bills, along with industry officials to "make sure we have the right language in the bills and that we have the right safeguards for patients."

Hutchinson told reporters Tuesday that he expects both bills will pass after he works with lawmakers.

"All you can do is lay out a plan, what you think we need to do, ask for the votes on it, and expect the legislature to address it in a responsible fashion," he said.

Hutchinson wants to modify the Medicaid expansion, which he is renaming Arkansas Works, and to utilize managed care, which he says will reduce Medicaid costs. But an alternative plan called Diamond Care is being circulated by some lawmakers, including Representative Justin Boyd. 

"There's not real clear data that (managed care) does everything it's being promised to do,” Boyd said. "There is concern it might not (save money), or that it may actually cost more."

Instead of contracting out managed care services, Diamond Care would hire companies with incentives to reduce costs and work to improve efficiency in the state’s Medicaid system.