LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Governor Asa Hutchinson outlined new amendments for the Arkansas Works program in a press conference Monday afternoon.
The Governor said he is focusing on four new changes that he believes will be approved by federal officials. He said his reforms to Arkansas Works are consistent with healthcare reform efforts in Washington.
One of the biggest changes the Governor is calling for is shifting nearly 60,000 Arkansans to federally subsidized private coverage. He said the move would allow the state to concentrate resources on those who are earning up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level. Those earning up to 38 percent above that mark will still have coverage, but it will be paid for by federal dollars and not state funds.
Additionally, the Governor is calling for a work requirement similar to what is required for SNAP recipients. He said he found very few people were taking advantage of job training resources because they aren't mandatory.
“This is a work requirement that will encourage those who are able-bodied to work and give them the tools they need to move up the economic ladder,” said Hutchinson.
He also plans to change employer sponsored insurance by targeting individuals working for small employers and earning at least 75 percent of the federal poverty level.
The state will continue to provide funding to cover premium costs up to the amount the state would have paid for an individual enrolled in Arkansas Works. The Governor also wants to incentivize employers to offer insurance.
Finally, the Governor wants to give Arkansas control of the eligibility process for Arkansas Works and Medicaid enrollees. He believes the state now has the capability to do that.
“We want to become an eligibility state which simply means we can do our own assessment,” he said.
If the amendments are approved, the changes would go into effect January 1, 2018. Drafts of the amendments should be out for public comment by April 15 of this year.
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