- Associated Press - Thursday, December 17, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A panel studying the future of Arkansas’ hybrid Medicaid expansion is shifting its focus to finding savings in the state’s Medicaid program after issuing its preliminary report.

The Health Reform Legislative Task Force on Thursday approved its report on the “private option,” which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents. The panel on Wednesday endorsed Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s efforts to change and rename the program, which was crafted as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health law.

The panel has also voted to identify between $50 million and $60 million a year in state cuts to Medicaid Hutchinson says is needed for when Arkansas begins paying part of the expansion’s tab.

Hutchinson is expected to call a special session next spring on the expansion.

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