Audio – Senator Keith Ingram Reporting News From 91st General Assembly
May 4th, 2017 • News

May 4, 2017- Senator Keith Ingram audio report of news from the 91st General Assembly.

  • The legislature approved the governor’s proposal to restrict Medicaid eligibility in seek of federal waiver and wrapped up this week’s three-day special session. While there were individual provisions in the bill I could support, I voted against it because of my concerns about how it could affect hospitals, specifically rural hospitals in Arkansas
  • Currently, about 320,000 Arkansas residents qualify for the Medicaid program because their yearly income is less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
  • The governor wants to seek a federal waiver that would allow Arkansas to lower the income threshold to 100 percent of the poverty level. That means a family of four would qualify if their annual income was less than $24,600. About 60,000 people will be affected.
  • Hospitals aer required by law to see any patient Hospitals will have to write off the cost of treatment, as they had to do in the past. For many hospitals in eastern Arkansas those costs were dangerously high before passage of the Affordable Care Act. We don’t need to return to those days, when so many people used hospital emergency rooms as their primary care provider.
  • I’m also concerned that premiums will go up for everyone else in the system, because we are removing the healthier healthier segment of the Medicaid population and the people remaining have less healthy lifestyles.
  • Another bill I opposed will transfer about $105 million from a state health care fund into a reserve fund. It comes from a legal settlement with tobacco companies, and 17 years ago the money was dedicated entirely to health-related programs, under a plan approved by Arkansas voters in a statewide election.
  • This comes on the heels of the governor announcing 70 million dollars in budget cuts due to revenue short funds. The timing is what bothers me the most. The governor has now opened the trust fund up to be spent on amendment 82 projects when revenue growth is less than 3%. Or school adequacy. Something I don’t think voters ever intended
  • The transfer of funds may improve the state’s credit rating, although I doubt it, but it will certainly break faith with the will of Arkansas voters.
  •       Click to Listen - Audio Recording from May 4, 2017