LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Thursday outlined several changes he said he would like to see made to the Senate bill that seeks to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Talking to reporters at the state Capitol, Hutchinson said the bill — which the Senate has delayed voting on so it can be reworked in an effort to shore up support — could cost Arkansas about $500 million a year, by a conservative estimate, and force the state to reduce or end its hybrid Medicaid expansion program, which has provided government-subsidized private health insurance to more than 300,000 low-income Arkansans.
The governor stopped short of saying he opposes the bill in its current form.
“People ask me, ‘Do you support the Senate bill or do you not support the Senate bill?’ That’s really not a fair question because it’s changing day by day,” he said.
Hutchinson said he believes the bill in its current form would do “some good things,” including reducing the national deficit and providing more flexibility to states. The current system is “not sustainable,” he said.
“The big problem is that the Senate bill does continue to shift costs to the states, and that leaves states like Arkansas with few choices,” he said.
The bill would phase down federal matching funds for Medicaid expansion starting in 2021. By 2020 the federal government’s share of the cost of Medicaid expansion will be 90 percent, but the bill would lower the federal government’s portion to 85 percent in 2021, 80 percent in 2022, 75 percent in 2023, and then to states’ regular Medicaid matching rates — which in Arkansas is 70…
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