Arkansas Healthcare

Democratic Party of Arkansas Chair Vincent Insalaco in his office in Little Rock.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

With the special session on Medicaid expansion all but upon us Democrats are continuing to show signs that their support is not to be taken for granted by the Republican governor. Democratic Party of Arkansas Chair Vincent Insalaco released a statement today making the case for Democratic leverage.

Herb Sanderson AARP
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson will limit the call in the upcoming special legislative session to his continuation of the private option, which he is calling Arkansas Works, and will not ask legislators to consider his managed care savings plan.

Hutchinson announced his intentions during a press conference at the Capitol Tuesday, the day after Senate President Pro Tempore Jonathan Dismang, R-Beebe; and Speaker of the House Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia, informed him in letters that a majority consensus exists with Arkansas Works but not with his managed care program.

Jonathan Dismang
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

The leaders of the state House and Senate are asking Gov. Asa Hutchinson to focus the upcoming special session on Arkansas Works, which is his continuation of the private option, and omit a second bill that would create a managed care model for some Medicaid programs because it doesn’t have enough support.

Medicaid Advisory Committee healthcare Governor Gov. Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says the savings he's projecting from his proposal to shift some Medicaid services to private firms will cut the state's waiting list for developmentally disabled in half.

Hutchinson on Wednesday defended his plan to keep next week's special session agenda limited to his managed care and hybrid Medicaid expansion proposals. The Republican governor is urging lawmakers to keep and rework the hybrid expansion, which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for the poor.

Arkansas ranks poorly in a study done by Consumer Reports that reviews medical board websites in all 50 states. The lack of easy access to physician’s records of past disciplinary actions is the primary issue spotlighted by the magazine.

Lisa McGiffert, director of the magazine’s Safe Patient Project, says things are confusing from the beginning, since visitors to the website must click on "Verify License" to access a physician’s profile. She believes a clearer description would make the information more accessible, but says challenges continue as patients move through the site.

Asa Hutchinson governor
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson will include only two items in his special session call: a bill creating Arkansas Works, and a bill creating a managed care system for some Medicaid programs, his office said Tuesday.

The decision means a bill competing with the managed care bill and supported by some legislators will not be on the call list.

Hutchinson is calling legislators into a health care special session April 6 to consider those issues, to be followed April 13 by a fiscal session, which occurs every even-numbered year.

Asa Hutchinson governor
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.

A group of five legislators was meeting Monday to prepare an alternative to the managed care bill supported by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Rep. Michelle Gray, R-Melbourne, said the group’s bill would create DiamondCare, a model where a private company would administer parts of the Medicaid program with incentives for cost-effective care.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson looks with reporters at a draft of legislation to make changes to Medicaid.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says his proposal to shift some Medicaid services to private companies broadens the debate about the program's future beyond the hybrid expansion he's urging lawmakers to save.

Hutchinson on Friday called his managed care plan and legislation to rework the state's hybrid expansion "historic." Hutchinson's comments come the day after lawmakers got their first look at the bills outlining the proposals. The Legislature is expected to convene April 6 for a special session focusing on both proposals.

One Capitol Mall has houses the Joint Budget Committee.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

A draft of the Arkansas Works Act of 2016, which would create the program that would replace the private option, is circulating among legislators and includes recommendations made earlier by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Meanwhile, two bills – one meant to produce savings through a managed care model, and one meant to produce savings through a “managed fee for service” model known as “DiamondCare” will begin circulating as early as today, Talk Business & Politics has learned.

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