- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 7, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas officials are anticipating a delay in implementing change so its expanded Medicaid program due to federal approval taking longer than expected.

A spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Human Services says the department would need 60 days to implement the changes after they’ve been approved.

The changes include restricting eligibility to people with incomes of up to 100 percent of the poverty level. The program currently includes people with incomes of up to 138 percent of the poverty level. The restriction would move 60,000 residents off of the program that has 248,000 people, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. Another change that the state is seeking is to impose work requirements.

The changes will need to be approved by Thursday for implementation by Jan. 1.

If approved, the changes could save about $4.5 million in federal Medicaid funds and $286,000 in state funds from January through June, according to the Human Services Department.

Spokesman for Gov. Asa Hutchinson, J.R. Davis, said state officials are optimistic about the changes being approved, but don’t know when it will happen.

“The most important part is these are substantive reforms that we think will strengthen the program and concentrate our resources on those who need it most,” Davis said.

Bradford Nye, the department’s director of policy development, said if federal officials require changes to the state’s plans, then the department could restart the rule-making process.


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

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