Arkansas sets precedent for Medicaid negotiations

As states continue to grapple with whether and how to expand Medicaid, Arkansas' governor says he won't push for Medicaid managed care — yet.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said the Legislature should meet for a formal special session to review a proposal for private firms to manage Medicaid as the state expands the program, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Hutchinson wants new restrictions on the hybrid expansion program, including private companies to manage Medicaid for the developmentally disabled and mentally ill. More than 250,000 beneficiaries are under the program, created three years ago as a different option to expanding Medicaid under federal law.

The governor has floated the idea of adding restrictions. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, however, wrote in a letter that the federal government would not support an asset test for newly eligible people, or a work requirement.

Burwell said she supports Hutchinson's idea to require referral to job training, and did not give a firm “no” to his proposal to eliminate 90-day retroactive coverage for new Medicaid beneficiaries. Other states, such as Indiana, have been allowed to jettison retroactive coverage, although that state agreed to reimburse providers for services received up to 90 days prior to the effective Medicaid coverage date for certain caretaker relatives.