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Special Session: Hutchinson Drops Managed Care Plan; Groups Call for Arkansas Works Passage

At a press conference today, April 5, Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a proclamation calling for the Arkansas General Assembly to address only the Arkansas Works legislation at a special session beginning at 10 a.m. tomorrow and dropping the managed care proposal from the agenda.

The proclamation comes a day after House Speaker Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia, and Senate President Jonathan Dismang, R-Beebe, sent letters to the governor asking him to remove his managed care proposal from the session’s agenda. The letter said there was not a consensus among legislators and more time was needed to understand the proposal.

Arkansas Works, recommended by the Healthcare Legislative Taskforce earlier this year, is the continuation of Medicaid expansion. View the proclamation here.

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More than 6,500 postcards from AARP members urging passage of Arkansas Works

Also, at today’s press conference, volunteers from AARP Arkansas presented Hutchinson with 6,547 postcards from its members calling for continued health coverage.

“AARP Arkansas supports Arkansas Works,” said the organization’s state director Herb Sanderson.

The group is calling on legislators to continue access to affordable health insurance for more than 200,000 Arkansans — 93,000 of which are individuals aged 45-64, representing 33 percent of the expansion population.

“Maintaining Medicaid expansion through Arkansas Works will help tens of thousands of 45- to 64-year-olds who’ve lost their jobs or are struggling in jobs without health benefits,” said a press release. “Many of these hard-working Arkansans earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but earn too little to get assistance through the Health Marketplace/Exchange.”

Hutchinson called the presentation of the postcards a “great kickoff” for tomorrow’s special session.

“It puts a human face on the decision that the legislature has to make,” he said.

Chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas Vincent Insalaco issued a statement calling for the continuation of the private option Medicaid expansion.

“We call on Governor Asa Hutchinson to be honest with all Arkansans. Without the private option, Arkansas’ nationally recognized patient-focused approach to healthcare, our state’s budget, the education of our children, and Arkansas’s future workforce will be in jeopardy,” Insalaco said.

“Democrats will not stand for any change to the private option that would make it harder for thousands of Arkansans to keep their health insurance. Clearly, Governor Asa Hutchinson has no Republican majority when it comes to continuing the private option. He will need the help of some Democrats. As Arkansas Democrats reach across the aisle to work out our differences on proposed changes to the private option, Republicans refuse to do their part. We must all work together to craft a solution that benefits the people of Arkansas.

“If Governor Asa Hutchinson’s legislative majority fails to continue the private option, the results will be disastrous. He has come to agree with Democrats who, since 2013, have consistently said, ‘Losing the private option would leave a huge hole in Arkansas’ budget and cripple many rural hospitals.’ Now, the governor must lead. He should rally Arkansans to call their legislators before the legislative session begins to tell members of his majority that a vote to continue the private option is vote for Arkansas’ future.”

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