LITTLE ROCK — Establishing a state-based insurance exchange for individuals in Arkansas will not be necessary, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Friday.

LITTLE ROCK — Establishing a state-based insurance exchange for individuals in Arkansas will not be necessary, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Friday.


"I think there’s a consensus that we should not move forward with the individual exchange," Hutchinson told reporters after giving a talk at the spring meeting of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators in Little Rock.


Arkansas has been awarded a $99 million federal grant to set up a state-based exchange, but last year Hutchinson said development of the exchange was "on pause" until it he could determine whether the reforms the state would seek would require a state-based exchange.


Earlier this year, Hutchinson met in Washington with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to discuss his ideas for revamping the Medicaid expansion program known as the private option, which he has proposed renaming Arkansas Works.


Hutchinson wants to require referral to work training for unemployed recipients; require recipients earning more than 100 percent of the federal poverty level to pay premiums of $19 per month and co-pays; require recipients to enroll in employer-based insurance, where available, and providing premium assistance for that coverage; make coverage effective upon enrollment instead of being retroactive for the previous 90 days; and give the state the option to end the expansion program with 30 days’ notice.


The governor has said he will call a special session in April so the Legislature can consider his proposals.


Hutchinson said Friday a state-based exchange is unnecessary for two reasons.


"One, the current system, the federal exchange, is working," he said. "I haven’t heard any complaints about it. Secondly, the argument for the individual exchange was it allows the state to do more innovation. Well, the innovation and the changes that I’ve outline in Arkansas Works does not require an individual state exchange."


Hutchinson said he is more interested in Arkansas’ state-based exchange for small businesses, the Small Business Health Options Program, which launched last year.


"The focus we want to make is to utilize the development of that SHOP exchange in a way that will help us to benefit our small businesses," he said.