Arkansas Healthcare

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.

(file photo) Gov. Asa Hutchinson and reporters look 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.

Office of the Governor

Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s administration is introducing two separate pieces of legislation in the upcoming special session: one that will create his program for continuing the private option, which he is calling Arkansas Works, and one he is calling a “savings bill” that includes a managed care provision and a managed care “bill of rights.”

Hutchinson made the comments Tuesday speaking to a town hall meeting – his first as governor – at Central Baptist College in Conway.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

In an effort to rally public opinion behind his healthcare plan, Arkansas Works, Gov. Asa Hutchinson is holding a town hall meeting Tuesday evening in Conway.

The current version of the healthcare program for over 200,000 low-income Arkansans, known as the private option, will expire at the end of this year if the legislature doesn’t take action.

Asa Hutchinson unveiling his thoughts on Medicaid expansion in early 2015.
Arkansas Times

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is hosting a town hall meeting next week as he tries to build support for his plan to keep the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion.

Hutchinson's office on Wednesday said the governor will host the town hall on his proposal to add new restrictions to the "private option," which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents. Hutchinson, a Republican, has proposed renaming the program "Arkansas Works."

The town hall will be Tuesday night at Central Baptist College in Conway.

Jim Hendren
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Arkansas lawmakers charged with issuing recommendations on the future of the state’s Medicaid expansion program voted Monday to back the Republican governor’s proposal to change and continue the Affordable Care Act-enabled plan that provides insurance to over 250,000 low-income residents. A series of bi-partisan votes have narrowly carried the program since its 2013 inception.

The convening of the Health Reform Legislative Task Force was planned as the penultimate meeting.

John Stephen Stephen Group
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

The loss of the private option would have a $757 million impact on the state budget from 2017- 2021, legislators were told Monday morning.

Stephen Palmer with The Stephen Group, the consulting firm hired by the Health Reform Legislative Task Force, told legislators that ending the private option would result in an increase of $213 million in state expenditures over that five-year period. Meanwhile, ending it would reduce tax revenues by $544 million.

Arkansas Hospital and Pharmacist Associations are voicing opposition to increasing managed care in Arkansas, in advance of legislators’ vote on a range of Medicaid reforms expected Monday.

The associations say polling of Arkansas voters shows opposition to contracting with managed care companies, which claim to reduce costs and determine healthcare programs for patients. 

Brad Chism, of Chism Strategies, said likely voters responded negatively to managed care across ethnic and partisan lines. Surveyors spoke to 453 respondents. 

Asa Hutchinson healthcare
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Federal officials say they want to work with Gov. Asa Hutchinson on his plan to overhaul Arkansas' hybrid Medicaid expansion but are expressing concerns about some of the restrictions potentially having "adverse impacts" on program participants.

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