- Associated Press - Thursday, February 25, 2021

SPRINGDALE, Ark. (AP) - A key subcommittee has signed off on an emergency rule allowing Marshall Islanders living in the United States to be eligible for Medicaid coverage.

The emergency rule approved by the Legislative Council’s Executive Subcommittee will become effective Tuesday, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

In December, then-President Donald Trump signed a law approved by Congress extending coverage for all adults who meet the income and other requirements for Medicaid coverage.

The Medicaid coverage will be available for adults in the Compact of Free Association islands and to those who are allowed through treaties to live and work in the United States, said Mark White, chief of legislative affairs for the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

The department proposed an emergency rule because a normal rule would not have take effect until July and this way it “give a bit of time that we would be out of compliance with the new federal law,” White said.

The rule is projected to cost $4.6 million in federal funds in fiscal 2021 and $9.3 million in federal funds in subsequent fiscal years.

Department spokeswoman Amy Webb said the projections are based on providing Medicaid coverage to about 1,678 adults.

White cautioned those projections are only worst case scenario since the cost estimate also assumes all adults are eligible for the state’s traditional Medicaid program, which requires the state to provide matching funds of 30%.

“Realistically, we expect most of these individuals would come under Arkansas Works, which is a 10% state match,” White said.

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