LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters Friday he wants health care to be the sole topic of a special session beginning April 6, one week before the Legislature’s scheduled fiscal session.

LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters Friday he wants health care to be the sole topic of a special session beginning April 6, one week before the Legislature’s scheduled fiscal session.

The governor said he will ask legislators to approve his plan for continuing and revamping Arkansas’ Medicaid expansion program, which he wants to rename Arkansas Works, and his plan to let a private company or companies manage parts of the traditional Medicaid program. Draft bills containing both plans are currently circulating among legislators.

Hutchinson has said he plans to call a second special session after the fiscal session to consider his plan for boosting highway funding. He told reporters Thursday that if lawmakers want to consider other topics, "that should be in the second special session."

The governor said the draft bills containing his plans for Medicaid include a "number of historic precedents and firsts."

One of those firsts is a proposed requirement that participants in the Medicaid expansion program — which uses federal Medicaid money to subsidize private health insurance for people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level — obtain employer-sponsored health insurance, if a cost-effective, small-group plan is available. The ideas has not been tried by any state.

Arkansas would provide as-yet-unspecified incentives to eligible businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Employees would receive premium assistance through Medicaid.

Hutchinson said the incentives would be limited to small employers, initially, because they are the ones most likely to shift their employees to the Medicaid expansion program in the absence of incentives to offer coverage to their employees.

"The focus first would be on the small business employers, but then we also want to look at the larger employers and see whether there is a means to bring them in and save money with them as well," he said.

Hutchinson also said the draft of the Medicaid Reform Act, which contains his managed-care plan, would create $1.4 billion in estimated savings in the overall Medicaid budget over the next five years.

Under the managed-care plan, the state would agree to pay a per-person rate to a company or companies to manage parts of the Medicaid program concerning dental care and services for people with developmental disabilities and behavioral health issues. The companies would make a profit if they can provide services for less than the agreed-upon rate but would lose money if their costs go above the rate.

The legislation also contains reporting requirements for managed care and "provides for the first time in the history of this state a providers’, patients’ and taxpayers’ bill of rights," Hutchinson said.

Among other things, the bill of rights would guarantee that a health-care provider not be paid below the prevailing Medicaid fee schedule by a managed-care company.

The legislation also would create a trust fund intended to reduce a waiting list for home- and community based services for disabled people. The list currently includes more than 3,000 Arkansans.

Also circulating among legislators is an alternative draft bill, the Managed Fee-For-Service Act, which calls for the state to enter into contracts with vendors to provide administrative services instead of handing over parts of the Medicaid program to private companies. Vendors that meet agreed-upon benchmarks would be eligible for incentives, and vendors that fail to meet benchmarks would have to pay fees.

Hutchinson said he has not yet read that draft, which has been floated by a group of legislators.

All of the measures need a simple majority vote for approval during the special session. Appropriating federal funding for Arkansas Works during the fiscal session will be more difficult, as it will require a three-fourths majority vote in each chamber.