Arkansas Healthcare

Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas' governor has signed into law legislation to continue the state's Medicaid expansion, which will impose a work requirement on thousands of participants this year.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson's office said Thursday the Republican signed the budget bill for Medicaid and the expansion, which uses federal and state funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents. More than 285,000 people are on the program, which was created as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health law.

Arkansas House
ArkansasHouse.org

Arkansas lawmakers have voted to continue the state's Medicaid expansion another year after federal officials approved a plan to impose a work requirement on the program.

The Arkansas House approved by a 79-15 vote Wednesday the budget for the state's Medicaid program and the expansion, which uses federal and state funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents. The measure needed at least 75 votes to pass. It now heads to the governor's desk.

State Sen. Alan Clark (R-Lonsdale) cast the decisive 27th vote in favor of granting Gov. Asa Hutchinson's appropriation to the Department of Human Services funding the state's health care coverage for low-income Arkansans called Arkansas Works. 

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for a vote, and then on to Hutchinson, who's expected to sign it.

Governor Asa Hutchinson  Arkansas Works Medicaid expansion
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A top Trump administration official is visiting Arkansas next week as the state awaits word on proposals to move 60,000 people off its Medicaid expansion and impose a work requirement on thousands of participants.

When the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration announces its five highest scoring applicants to own and operate a marijuana cultivation facility for the state's germinating medical marijuana industry, it will be a surprise to the Medical Marijuana Commission who scored the 95 applicants.

"These 95 applications were scored individually by each commissioner. They were then brought back to the Alcoholic Beverage Control office [and] turned in individually; so at this point the commissioners are also going to learn along with everyone else those top five scores," Scott Hardin, spokesman for the department, said Monday.

Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters Monday he will call lawmakers back to the State Capitol shortly after the ongoing fiscal session to pass legislation to address growing concerns on rising health costs associated with so-called PBMs, or pharmacy benefit managers.

Asa Hutchinson Jonathan Dismang Jeremy Gillam
Arkansas Times

Arkansas Legislative leaders are asking Gov. Asa Hutchinson to call a special session to pass legislation that would license and regulate pharmacy benefit managers through the Arkansas Insurance Department. The governor is to address the request during a 3 p.m. press conference Monday.

Identical letters to that effect were written Friday by Senate President Pro Tempore Jonathan Dismang, R-Searcy, and Speaker of the House Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia.

File photo: Gov. Asa Hutchinson presenting part of his Arkansas Works plan, the state's version of Medicaid expansion.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Trump administration issued guidance to states on Thursday regarding the terms of adding work requirements for Medicaid coverage and Arkansas’s governor is ready to take advantage of the policy shift. Medicaid is a health insurance program for low-income people administered by states but primarily funded by the federal government. Eligibility is largely determined by income levels, which were expanded under the Affordable Care Act.

UAMS
UAMS.edu

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences says it will lay off 258 workers and leave another 350 or so positions unfilled as it addresses a $30 million hole in its budget.

The university chancellor notified 10,900 employees Monday. The school said in a statement it could no longer use reserve money to ensure that it wouldn't exceed its $1.5 billion budget. Spokeswoman Leslie Taylor said the cuts will save $30 million in the rest of this fiscal year and about $60 million next year.

UAMS has employees in 73 of the state's 75 counties.

marijuana
npr.org

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions threw a monkey wrench into the Natural State’s long-awaited launch of Arkansas’ medical marijuana industry next month by rolling back an Obama-era policy Thursday that opened the door to the legalization of pot in Arkansas and 29 other states.

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