REP. LANE JEAN: Presented the Medicaid bill.

The Arkansas Houde Tuesday afternoon on its second try approved SB 99 the $8 billion Medicaid budget bill that includes the continuation of the Medicaid expansion known as Arkansas Works, but with a court order preventing enforcement of a work rule for qualification adopted two years ago.

The vote was 75-18, with two voting present and five others not voting. It followed only brief debate after presentation by Rep. Lane Jean, who presents budget bills. The bill required 75 votes for passage. No one challenged the announced vote.

Rep. Mary Bentley (R-Perryville) said she had real “stomach aches” about the bill because of increasing Medicaid expenditures.  “We’re in trouble.” She said she’d vote against it.

Rep. Vivian Flowers (D-Pine Bluff) urged a vote for the bill mindful of those covered by the bill and those who do the work. “We still have to make sure our people are taken care of.”

Advertisement

The bill earlier passed the Senate. Gov. Asa Hutchinson had urged passage. He’s hoping for reinstatement of the work rule and has said the added cost of additional people on the program without it could be accommodated with surplus money in the Department of Human Services budget.

Said the governor afterward:

I applaud the House and its leadership for its passage of SB99, the DHS appropriation bill. This is a key part of my budget and provides essential funding for health care needs of those Arkansans who are struggling financially. This appropriation also allows us to continue the fight for reform, such as the work requirement.

Approval of this bill was followed by Rep. Reginald Murdock’s presentation of HB 1821 to provide for changes in Medicaid reimbursement rates so that providers of health services have the money necessary to cover minimum wage increases. It provides for an 8.8 percent increase for early intervention day treatment services; adult development day treatment services; personal care services paid by the unit and those paid by a multihour daily rate;
attendant care and respite care services under the ARChoices waiver or its successor; and
substance abuse treatment services. He said the money was available for covering the costs from past savings in operation of Medicaid.

He said the Department of Human Services resisted a portion of his legislation, which requires a review of rates annually and reports on its findings. The bill passed 85-8, with three present, and goes to the Senate.