LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed legislation to add restrictions to the state’s Medicaid expansion program, if the federal government approves.
A spokesman said Thursday the governor has signed all bills that were sent to his desk during this week’s special session, including Senate Bill 3, now Act 6 of 2017.
The new law directs the state Department of Human Services to seek federal approval to add a work requirement to the Arkansas Works program, formerly known as the private option, and lower the program’s maximum income level for eligibility from 138 percent to 100 percent of the federal poverty level.
Hutchinson and DHS officials have said the proposed changes would improve the program — which provides government-subsidized private health insurance to more than 300,000 Arkansans — by reducing costs, emphasizing personal responsibility and helping low-income Arkansans find work and move up the economic ladder.
They say about 60,000 Arkansans would become ineligible for Arkansas Works, but those people would have the opportunity to obtain coverage through the insurance exchange, with federal subsidies that would equal the state and federal aid they now receive.
Critics question whether some people will fall through the cracks, reversing some of the progress the state has made in reducing its uninsured population.
Hutchinson also signed a bill to transfer more than $100 million from a fund containing money from the state’s 1998 settlement with tobacco companies into a long-term reserve fund, among other measures.