- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 20, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas Department of Human Services Director John Selig said Tuesday he supports having a private company manage some portions, but not all, of the state’s Medicaid program.

Selig told a legislative task force that moving some of the program’s more expensive clients to managed care makes more sense than shifting the entire program. A consultant told lawmakers this month that hiring a company to manage the care for the state’s Medicaid program could save Arkansas billions of dollars.

“I think we have in Arkansas a higher chance of success in reforming Medicaid for those high-cost populations if we use some form of managed Medicaid,” Selig told the panel, which is looking at the future of the state’s hybrid Medicaid expansion.

Selig, who announced this month that he is stepping down at the end of the year, said managed care would make sense for clients such as some elderly people, the developmentally disabled and those with serious mental illnesses. He said such a shift would still require strong oversight from the state and clear direction on what officials would want the private companies to manage.

“Don’t just simply hand them the money and say, good luck. You get really clear about what you want,” Selig said.

The Stephen Group, the consulting firm hired by the task force, included the managed care recommendation in its report calling for an overhaul of the state’s private option Medicaid expansion. Under the private option, Arkansas is using federal funds to purchase private insurance for the poor.

DHS officials also told the panel that a significant number of the nearly 43,000 Medicaid recipients flagged by the consultants as possibly living out of state had already been removed from the program’s rolls. The state has removed thousands of people from Medicaid, most from the private option, who did not respond to forms seeking to verify their income eligibility.

The task force is looking into the future of the private option and is expected to issue its recommendations in December. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said he supports keeping the expansion if the federal government will allow Arkansas to impose new limits on its eligibility and benefits.


Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo

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