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Hutchinson says managed care won't be on session agenda

Governor Asa Hutchinson holds a press conference April 5, 2016 with AARP on Medicaid expansion Arkansas Works. Photo by: KATV

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he won't put his proposal to have private firms manage some Medicaid services before lawmakers as they convene for a special session this week.

Gov. Hutchinson formally called the Legislature to meet for a special session focusing on his proposal to keep and rework the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion.

The Republican governor on Tuesday issued the formal proclamation for the session after saying it would not include his proposal to shift some Medicaid services to managed care. The session is set to begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday, and the governor is expected to address lawmakers after they convene.

Hutchinson has proposed adding new restrictions to the hybrid expansion, which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for the poor. The expansion was created three years ago as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health law. More than 250,000 people are on the program.

Hutchinson proposed contracting with private companies to manage Medicaid services for the developmentally disabled and mentally ill. The proposal faced resistance from Democrats and some Republicans who say managed care would lead to service cuts.

Lawmakers opposed to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's managed care legislation are leaving open the possibility they'll try with a competing proposal during this week's special session.

The group of lawmakers on Tuesday released their proposal to have the state hire private firms to coordinate services for the developmentally disabled and mentally ill. Unlike Hutchinson's proposal, under the competing plan Arkansas would continue paying Medicaid providers directly.

Hutchinson earlier Tuesday said he wouldn't include his managed care proposal on the session agenda at the urging of legislative leaders.

Democratic Sen. Keith Ingram, who backs the competing proposal, says he thinks it's germane to Hutchinson's session proclamation and wouldn't rule out supporters bringing the measure up if there are enough votes for it.

The Arkansas Democratic Party is warning of "disastrous" results if the Republican-led Legislature doesn't keep the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion.

State Democratic Party Chairman Vince Insalaco on Tuesday urged Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson to rally Arkansans to call lawmakers and tell them they support keeping the hybrid expansion. Hutchinson has proposed keeping the expansion, which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for the poor, and adding new restrictions to it.

Insalaco says in a statement that Democrats won't stand for any changes that make it harder for thousands on the program to keep their insurance.

The program was created three years ago as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health care law and has sharply divided Republicans, who control both chambers of the Legislature.

The Arkansas chapter of the AARP says it's backing Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to keep and rework the state's hybrid Medicaid expansion.

The group said Tuesday it was backing Hutchinson's plan to keep the expansion, which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for the poor. More than 250,000 people are on the program, which was created three years ago as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health law.

Hutchinson has proposed adding new restrictions, including charging premiums for some participants, and renaming the program "Arkansas Works." The Legislature is set to convene Wednesday morning for a special session on the matter.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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