On Wednesday, April 6 we will convene at the Capitol for an Extraordinary Session, often times referred to as special session, to address changes to our state's healthcare system.
There will be two issues before us to consider. One piece of legislation will create a program that the Governor is calling Arkansas Works. The second issue will address reforms to provide savings to the state's Medicaid program.
The Private Option, as it is called today, it will end on December 31 of this year. More than 267,000 Arkansans are insured with through this program that uses federal Medicaid dollars to provide private insurance plans to families making 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) or less. Currently that amount is equal to $16,394 for an individual or $33,534 for a family of four.
Arkansas Works would replace the Private Option. It would still continue to use the private insurance marketplace, but with significant changes.
One of the changes would direct anyone on the program who does not have an income to the Department of Workforce Services for work training opportunities and job search efforts.
It also requires participants to receive an annual wellness exam.
And it requires any participant making over the federal poverty level to pay a premium at an affordable rate. Failure to pay will result in a loss of incentive benefits, not coverage.
It is expected that this session will take three days. Then on April 13, we will reconvene for the Fiscal Session where we vote on appropriations for all state agencies and determine the budget of the state for the next fiscal year.
You can follow all of these proceedings by watching on our website at www.arkansashouse.org