Both the House and Senate approved changes to Gov. Hutchinson’s “Arkansas Works” Medicaid expansion on Tuesday.
Those changes included in House Bill 1003 include reducing access to the program to those making less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level and establishing a work requirement for some enrollees.
Currently, Arkansas’s Medicaid expansion program is open to anyone making less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
The change would move approximately 62,000 enrollees off the Medicaid expansion program, according to State Rep.
Bob Ballinger called the changes “good conservative reforms” in testimony on the House floor on Tuesday.
We’re taking a step in the right direction. Does this do everything I would like to see done? No, but this is what’s on the table. This is what we’re offered to make a step in the right direction. There are already work requirements that are already functioning out there that we’re doing as a state. That’s ultimately what we want to do…any entitlement that we offer as a state should be something that helps people and doesn’t hinder them..doesn’t create something that’s forever but yet maybe bridges them to a job.
HB 1003 passed 71-23 in the House.
Senate Bill 3, a companion bill to HB 1003 in the Senate, also passed 23-9.
Senate President Jonathan Dismang told Senators before the vote:
At some future point, there’s no doubt in my mind that Congress will make changes and we’ll have to deal with the situation at that time. For the moment we have right now, it makes budgetary sense for us in the state of Arkansas to make these changes.
The changes to Medicaid expansion will save taxpayers approximately $67 million to $93 million over four years, according to the Department of Human Services.
In other news Tuesday afternoon, legislation that would authorize transferring $105 million in tobacco settlement funds to long-term reserve funds passed the Joint Budget committee.