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The Latest: Bill to keep Arkansas Medicaid plan advances

March 5, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Latest on Arkansas’ proposed work requirement for Medicaid expansion winning approval(all times local):

4 p.m.

A bill reauthorizing Arkansas’ Medicaid expansion for another year has advanced on the same day the state won federal approval for its plan to impose a work requirement on thousands of people in the program.

The Joint Budget Committee on Monday endorsed the budget bill for Medicaid and the state’s Medicaid expansion program. The state’s hybrid expansion uses Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents. The bill now heads to the Senate for a vote.

The expansion program was created as an alternative to expanding traditional Medicaid under the federal health care law. It currently covers more than 285,000 people.

The committee endorsed the bill just hours after Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Trump administration announced that the work requirement had been approved. The requirement is seen as key to winning the three-fourths support needed in the state House and Senate to approve the budget bill.

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11:15 a.m.

The Trump administration has approved Arkansas’ plan to require thousands of people on its Medicaid expansion to work or volunteer, the third state allowed to impose such restrictions.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Monday that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved the requirement for Arkansas’ program, which uses Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents.

More than 285,000 people are on the program, which was created as an alternative to expanding traditional Medicaid under the federal health care law.

The Trump administration in January said it would allow states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients. It has already approved proposals from Kentucky and Indiana. Arkansas’ proposal would not affect those on its traditional Medicaid program.

Hutchinson was joined for the announcement by Seema Verma, who heads the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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