LITTLE ROCK — As expected, Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday issued a call for a special legislative session primarily to ask lawmakers to approve proposed changes to the state’s Medicaid expansion program.
This year’s regular legislative session went into recess April 3 and is set for formal adjournment on Monday. Hutchinson signed a proclamation Friday that calls for the Legislature to gavel back in at 2 p.m. Monday for the special session, which is expected to last three days.
Hutchinson will ask lawmakers to approve modifying the program formerly known as the private option and now known as Arkansas Works. The program provides government-subsidized private health insurance to Arkansans earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
The governor wants to lower the maximum income level for eligibility to 100 percent of the federal poverty level and add a work requirement. The proposed changes would need federal as well as legislative approval.
Also on the call for the special session are:
• Making technical corrections to multiple bills on ethics and medical marijuana that were passed during the regular session to ensure they are consistent and do not leave any gaps.
• Restructuring the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace to give the Legislative Council oversight of it, make the state’s insurance exchange for small businesses optional and prohibit the development of a state-based insurance exchange for individuals. The state currently operates the individual exchange in partnership with the federal government.
• Authorizing the transfer of money from the state’s 1998 settlement with tobacco companies to a long-term reserve fund.