LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson wants to add a work requirement to Arkansas' hybrid Medicaid expansion and to lower its eligibility cap, which would add new restrictions to the program even as the future of the federal health overhaul remains unclear.
The Republican governor Monday detailed changes he'll ask the federal government to approve for the program, which uses Medicaid funds to buy private insurance for the poor. More than 300,000 people are on the program that was created in 2013 as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health law.
Hutchinson also proposed lowering the program's eligibility to 100 percent of the federal poverty level, which would move about 60,000 people to the subsidized insurance marketplace. He said this new cap would ensure that the people affected would retain their coverage, save money for the state and encourage personal responsibility.
Hutchinson said he believes the change brought about by the waivers is the same direction national health care will take. Arkansas' changes can be a "model" for other states and the federal government, he said.
The waivers won't be able to take effect without certain pieces of legislation, Hutchinson said. A special session will probably be called for those bills, he said.
Department of Human Services Director Cindy Gillespie said her agency aims to have drafts of the amendments complete by April 15 and sent to the Centers for Medicare and Medical Services by June 1.
Read Tuesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.
Maggie McNeary of Arkansas Online and The Associated Press contributed to this story.