Gov. Asa Hutchinson,
joined by leaders of the Senate and House, today indicated the federal government* will appeal the federal court decision killing the Medicaid work rule and said that appeal was, in fact, an argument to approve the Medicaid budget not to defeat it.

At a news conference this morning, Hutchinson defended the program and he said the judge’s decision shouldn’t derail the legislative session. If the work rule is removed from the Arkansas Works program the state would be “giving up on the fight.”

The Human Services budget passed the Senate yesterday. House Speaker Matthew Shepherd said he expected the bill to come to a vote Friday in the House. He said he was optimistic the House will be able to “chin the bar” and get the 75 votes necessary for passage. He emphasized the court decision yesterday was just an initial decision.

Senate President Jim Hendren said the Senate knew such a ruling was possible, but the senators also knew they had a responsibility to pass a budget.

The governor said he expected an expedited appeal, though he wasn’t sure what form it would take, such as with a request to stay the judge’s ruling yesterday. He said he disagreed with the ruling. The judge questioned the benefits of the program, but Hutchinson claimed they’d been substantial.

He said work referrals would continue and he lauded improvements in handling certification for Medicaid and helping people meet the work rule.

*A previous version of this post said the state would appeal the decision.