- Associated Press - Thursday, April 27, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas Department of Human Services officials say a plan to move more than 60,000 residents off of Arkansas’ expanded Medicaid program, Arkansas Works, will save the state at least $66 million over the next four years while increasing premiums in the state’s market for individual insurance plans.

Those moved off of Medicaid would be eligible for similar coverage and federal grants to help pay premiums through the state’s health insurance exchange, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/2plSuSc ) reported.

Department director Cindy Gillespie said the change would be implemented at a rate of about 5,000 people per month throughout 2018 as the department conducts annual eligibility checks of Medicaid recipients.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson plans to seek approval next week for the change in eligibility for the program during a special session of the Legislature. A work requirement would be imposed on the remaining people enrolled in the program.

The changes to the program will need to be approved by President Donald Trump’s administration.

The federal government paid the full cost of coverage through the end of last year under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for states that expanded Medicaid including Arkansas. This year, those states became responsible for 5 percent of the cost, which will rise to 10 percent by 2020.

Gillespie said Arkansas plans to work with insurance companies to minimize the number of people who end up uninsured.

We don’t see ourselves as just saying, ‘Good luck,’ and dropping people off,” Gillespie said. “We see it very much as a handoff.”

More than 320,000 residents were covered under Arkansas Works as of March 31.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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