BREAKING NEWS: Red Flag Warning issued

Medicaid enrollment spikes, cost dips

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
This article was published December 7, 2017 at 4:00 a.m.

LITTLE ROCK -- State figures show that enrollment in Arkansas' Medicaid expansion program increased by 2,100 people in October, while the average monthly cost decreased.

Figures released on Monday by the Arkansas Department of Human Services show that the average monthly cost per enrollee fell by nearly $3.70 during the same month to $518.63, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

The increase in enrollment brings the number of people in the program to almost 310,000 as of Oct. 31, including nearly 287,000 people who were assigned to coverage in private plans offered on Arkansas' insurance exchange.

The Medicaid expansion, called Arkansas Works, was approved in 2013. It extends eligibility to adults with incomes of up to 138 percent of the poverty level.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has requested federal approval to move about 60,000 people off the program by limiting eligibility to those with incomes up to the poverty level. He has said he is concerned about the program's eventual cost.

State officials hadn't received approval for the request as of Monday but were "optimistic it will happen soon," said Amy Webb, spokeswoman for the Human Services Department.

The federal government paid the full cost of the program through 2016 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Arkansas became responsible for 5 percent of the cost this year, and the state's responsibility will increase each year until it reaches 10 percent in 2020.

State Desk on 12/07/2017
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