Director of Human Services John Selig presented new Medicaid numbers to the House and Senate Committees on Public Health, Welfare and Labor this week. Selig told lawmakers that Medicaid's new payment improvement initiative with healthcare providers is cutting costs."Even a slight change of two or three percent in the way they do their work has millions of dollars of impact on the Medicaid program," said Selig.The new numbers means the shortfall will be about $60 million less than expected. That means the deepest cuts, including level three nursing home care, adult dental care and the small business program, likely won't happen.House Republican John Burris says he isn't ready to talk expansion just yet."It just makes sense to fix what you're already doing before you start doing more, and I think that's how most of the house members that I talk to, that's how they feel," said Burris.Senate Republican Cecile Bledsoe agrees. She says she wants to have all the facts before making a decision on Medicaid expansion."I think the voters will understand that. They'll say, 'We want people that think these things through, that don't just say immediately we can get some relief but that look down the line'," said Bledsoe.Selig believes lawmakers can work to reform Medicaid and expand it simultaneously. He says he will spend this session helping lawmakers understand the ins and outs of the program and trying to convince them that expansion makes sense and the state can afford it."I frankly think it can happen at the same time. In a program this size, you can always find something else to work on, and this opportunity for 100 percent federal funding is only available for three years. What I'd like to do is get people as healthy as possible during that three year period. That way when the state does have some expense, we've already taken care of their worst dental problems, their worst surgical needs," explained Selig.
CONTINUING COVERAGEArk. Medicaid faces nearly $200M funding gap (Nov. 13)Ark. Medicaid faces 'significant' cuts in services (Nov. 13)Beebe: Medicaid expansion can spare nursing homes (Nov. 14)Ark. surgeon general addresses Medicaid expansion (Nov. 27)Beebe: Vote on Medicaid expansion during regular session (Jan. 3)Medicaid expansion hot topic leading up to general assembly (Jan. 7)Focus on Medicaid as Ark. session begins (Jan. 14)Beebe: Medicaid shortfall not as large as anticipated (Jan. 15)Ark. lawmakers seek more details on Medicaid (Jan. 17)Medicaid shortfall possibly $60 million less than expected (Jan. 17)Impact of Medicaid expansion on rural hospitals (Jan. 25)Ark. House GOP leader: Medicaid a work in progress (Jan. 28)Beebe: Don't delay Medicaid vote until next year (Feb. 11)Officials tout 'Medicaid contraction' (March 1)Ark. lawmakers approve contract on Medicaid (March 5)Ark. GOP leader floats special session on Medicaid (March 25)