The Latest: Governor says support 'strong' for Medicaid plan - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

The Latest: Governor says support 'strong' for Medicaid plan

(Source: Raycom Media) (Source: Raycom Media)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Latest on Arkansas' special legislative session on the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion (all times local):

3:40 p.m.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson calls the initial approval of his plan to keep the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion a sign that the proposal has a "very strong, bipartisan" support from a majority of lawmakers.

The Republican governor on Thursday called the House and Senate support of his plan a solid foundation toward winning approval of the Medicaid bill that will fund the program during the legislative session that begins next week. The House and Senate are expected to give final approval Friday to Hutchinson's proposal to add new restrictions to the program.

The hybrid expansion uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for thousands of low-income residents. It was created three years ago as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health law.

The bill funding the program faces an uphill fight in the upcoming session, with three-fourths support needed in both the House and Senate.

2:30 p.m.

The plan to keep Arkansas' hybrid Medicaid expansion is set for final votes in both the state House and Senate.

The House and Senate Insurance and Commerce committees advanced identical versions of the bill Thursday, hours after the proposal cleared both chambers. The bills face final votes Friday morning.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has proposed keeping the program, which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for thousands of low-income Arkansans. He's called for requiring some participants to pay premiums, along with other restrictions.

The proposal faces a tougher fight in a session set to begin next week, with the budget bill funding the program needing three-fourths support in both the House and Senate.

11:30 a.m.

Arkansas lawmakers have given initial approval to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to keep and rework the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion, but the vote indicates an uphill battle to fend off a defunding effort by opponents.

The Senate approved by a 25-10 vote Hutchinson's proposal to keep the program, which is covering more than 250,000 people. The vote came Thursday morning, shortly after the House approved an identical version of the measure.

Hutchinson, a Republican, has proposed adding new restrictions to the program including charging premiums for some participants. The program uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents. Final votes on the proposal are expected Friday morning in both chambers.

The plan faces a tougher battle at the fiscal session next week, with the budget bill for the program needing at least three-fourths support from the House and Senate.

11:15 a.m.

The Arkansas House has approved Gov. Asa Hutchinson's proposal to keep and rework the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion.

By a 70-30 vote, the House on Thursday passed legislation outlining Hutchinson's plan to add new restrictions to the program currently covering more than 250,000 people. The expansion uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for the poor.

Hutchinson, a Republican, has proposed charging premiums to some participants and also requiring some on the program to enroll in their employers' insurance plans, if available.

The Senate was expected to take up an identical version of the bill on Thursday.

6 a.m.

Arkansas lawmakers are taking up Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to keep and rework the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion.

The House and Senate on Thursday are scheduled to take up identical versions of legislation outlining the Republican governor's proposal to keep the program that is covering more than 250,000 people. Hutchinson wants to rename the program "Arkansas Works" and add new restrictions such as premiums for some participants.

The program was created three years ago as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health law.

The votes may indicate how much of a challenge Hutchinson faces next week in fending off an attempt by opponents to block the funding bill for the expanded coverage. That measure will need three-fourths support from the House and Senate.

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