On Monday, Governor Hutchinson announced seven juvenile treatment and correctional facilities taken over by the Arkansas Department of Human Services on Jan. 1 will be placed back in private control as soon as next July. By the end of the year, the governor said, the state will issue a solicitation for one or more contractors to operate the youth lockups, with the winner or winners likely to be announced in March.
At a Thursday press conference at the state Capitol, Governor Hutchinson argued for changing three critical components of the health care legislation introduced last week by fellow Republicans in the U.S. Senate, the Better Care Reconciliation Act.
Like similar legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in May, the new Senate bill would also institute major cuts to the traditional Medicaid program, potentially affecting coverage for millions of children, elderly people and disabled adults nationwide.
Almost two-thirds of children in Arkansas’s small towns and rural areas receive health care coverage through Medicaid, according to a report released Wednesday by researchers at Georgetown University and the University of North Carolina — the highest percentage of any state in the nation.
The House Public Health Committee on Thursday rejected a bill from Rep. Brandt Smith (R-Jonesboro) that would have created an avenue for health care workers, institutions and insurers to opt out of administering or paying for health care services on the basis of “religious, moral or ethical principles.” Smith did not rule out reviving the bill for a second vote at a later date.