Audio – Senator Keith Ingram Reporting News From 91st General Assembly
December 13th, 2018 • News

December 13, 2018

  • In every legislative session there is a battle over budgets. Although we still have a month to go before the 2019 regular session convenes, the skirmishing has begun.
  • This battle is about the Medicaid budget. A small but important category of Medicaid spending subsidizes the care of low-income seniors in assisted living facilities, under a program known as ARChoices.
  • The state Human Services Department wants to cut spending on in-home services by about $7.8 million a year. It also wants to cut reimbursements to facilities by $4.6 million next year.
  • In line with those spending reductions, the department also wants to limit the number of seniors who are eligible to receive the financial help.
  • As you might have expected, the proposed spending cuts quickly generated a storm of protests. First of all, the senior citizens affected are the most vulnerable. Generally speaking, their yearly incomes are less than $25,000 a year, while the cost of living in an assisted care facility can be $2,500 a month.
  • What’s the alternative for seniors who cannot afford to pay for a spot in one of the 52 assisted living facilities in Arkansas? If they cannot live with family, it means they will probably have to live in a nursing home.
  • his is the kind of budget battle with real consequences for real people. As we head into the legislative session, there will be others.
  • It’s important to remember why we’re fighting these budget battles. It’s because the governor announced that the state had to save $835 million in the Medicaid program over a five-year period.
  • He wasn’t specific about where he wanted to reduce spending, he simply told others to come up with hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts.
  • No reductions have been finalized, so it’s still possible that we can protect the seniors who get home services or who live in assisted living facilities
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      Click to Listen - Audio Recording from December 13, 2018