LITTLE ROCK — A House committee on Tuesday endorsed Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s proposal to use some of the state’s tobacco settlement money to reduce the number of developmentally disabled people on a waiting list for home- and community-based services.
In a voice vote with no dissent, the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee gave a “do pass” recommendation to House Bill 1033 by Rep. Andy Mayberry, R-Hensley.
The bill would devote $8.5 million a year from the from the state’s 1999 settlement with tobacco companies to reducing the waiting list.
Combined with federal matching funds, the bill would allow the state to use about $29 million a year to reduce the waiting list by between 500 and 900 people, Mayberry said. About 3,000 people are on the list, some of them since 2007.
“This is the first signficiant step that we’ve been able to make in quite some time,” Mayberry told the committee.
The money previously funded the AR Health Networks, an insurance program that ended in 2013 when Arkansas expanded its Medicaid program.
Last year, Hutchinson proposed using savings from his managed-care plan for Medicaid to reduce the list by half, but he dropped the managed-care plan in the face of legislative resistance.