The Republican governor outlined changes he’d like to see in the legislation aimed at repealing and replacing major portions of the 2010 federal health overhaul. Hutchinson, however, stopped short of saying whether he opposes the measure if it doesn’t include the proposed changes. Senate leaders shelved a plan to vote on the legislation this week and are working on revisions to win enough votes to pass the measure.
“We’re not saying do nothing. We’re saying we need to do better and we need to have a better result from the debate in Washington,” Hutchinson said at a Capitol news conference.
Hutchinson proposed exempting the elderly, blind and disabled from a plan to cap federal Medicaid spending, saying the legislation as is would represent a major cost shift to the state of some of the program’s biggest expenses.
Hutchinson’s office said Arkansas could not cover the $200 million more needed per year to sustain the Medicaid expansion under the proposed legislation, which would reduce the enhanced match rates states receive from the federal government for the program. More than 300,000 people are covered under Arkansas’ hybrid expansion, which uses Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents. The law setting up Arkansas’ hybrid expansion requires the state to wind down the program if the federal match is reduced.
Hutchinson called for the legislation to allow states to include the expansion population in a Medicaid block grant, which he said would allow the state to negotiate a better match rate for those on the expanded program than what’s currently laid out in the bill.