On Sept. 19, Governor Hutchinson endorsed the so-called Graham-Cassidy health care bill and urged the U.S. Senate to approve the partisan legislation before a Sept. 30 deadline makes its passage effectively impossible. The governor called the bill — sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) — the nation’s “last, best chance to repeal the Affordable Care Act.”
On Thursday, Arkansas Department of Human Services Director Cindy Gillespie announced an internal reorganization of the DHS that will shift 171 employees to a newly created division, impact more than 40 DHS contracts and streamline the agency’s oversight of thousands of Medicaid providers across the state.
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.