Medicaid Funding Gets Final Legislative Approval, After Several Attempts

Mar 30, 2017

Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

On a second try, the Arkansas House of Representatives successfully passed the appropriation for the state Department of Human Services Division of Medical Services. The Division oversees the state’s expanded Medicaid program, which includes the health coverage of more than 300,000 low-income adults.

The program, formerly known as the "private option" and now called Arkansas Works, utilizes federal funds made available under the Affordable Care Act. Adults covered under the program earn incomes up to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. That roughly equates to an individual income of about $16,000 a year.

SB196, an $8 billion-plus appropriation of federal and state funds, passed on a 77-13 vote after failing Wednesday. Arkansas Senate made three attempts to pass the bill. It now heads to the governor.

Since initial approval in 2013, funding of Medicaid expansion in Arkansas has been an issue that has divided state Republican lawmakers. Funding bills need a three-fourths majority to pass in the Legislature. Most funding bills are approved routinely.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he would ask the federal government to allow Arkansas Works to cover only people who make make up to 100 percent of the FPL. That would remove about 60,000 people from state-sponsored coverage.