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Proposed changes target 30,000 "high cost" individuals

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) -

Thursday morning Arkansas moved a step closer to embarking on what supporters call a unique and innovative approach to allocating Medicaid dollars.

But lawmakers are considering experimenting with our state's most vulnerable population.

A house committee was told that 30,000 Arkansans receive one billion dollars yearly through Medicaid.

Proposed changes are targeting this "high cost" population.

"They said it is a small population,” says Lainey Morrow of Little Rock. “But it is the most costly population they say. And...there is a reason. They have life and death issues."

Morrow has a three-year-old daughter with Down syndrome.

Already in her short life she has endured multiple surgeries...including open heart surgery.

"These populations are dependent on Medicaid,” says Morrow. “This is not possible for the average parent with a career who is educated...even that person cannot afford to pay for their child to have this care."

"You know we...and this is across the country too...we spend more money and get some of the worst results in the United States here," says Representative Aaron Pilkington of Clarksville, the sponsor of House Bill 1706.

Changes to a provider-led system of healthcare is a major deal for the behavioral health and developmentally disabled communities.

Lawmakers passed House Bill 1706 out of the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor committee unanimously after only one audience member was allowed to speak against it.

Debate was limited to ten minutes per side.

"Patients were not represented today,” says Morrow. “I came four hours early, I signed up first on the list, and I did not get to represent the 1,800 people in my group who have concerns about this issue."

If this proposed Medicaid change is adopted and savings are realized, at least half of the money will be used to further reduce the Medicaid waiver waiting list.

House Bill 1706 will next be considered by the entire House of Representatives.

Air date: March 9th, 2017

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