Hutchinson pitches continuation of the program formerly known as the private option | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hutchinson pitches continuation of the program formerly known as the private option

Posted By on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 10:32 AM

click to enlarge BRIAN CHILSON
  • BRIAN CHILSON
Look above for David Ramsey's on-scene detailed coverage of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's big speech on how he plans to proceed on the private option.

But ... 

Short take: Hutchinson wants it to continue through at least the end of 2016. In the meanwhile, he wants a task force to "modernize" the entire Medicaid program and to find alternative health coverage models for those currently enjoying the expanded coverage.

More personal responsibility (work); limitations on state spending; "market" initiatives; elimination of "waste, fraud and abuse"; flexibility with the entire Medicaid budget — these are among points he emphasized.

He wants to have a new program ready by Dec. 31, 2016.

He wants to "close this chapter" on the private option, but I haven't yet heard ideas on a new branding strategy. Surely it is to come. He said the words "private option" had become "toxic."

He read a letter from the Obama administration encouraging Hutchinson's broad efforts and desire for a "broad block of changes" that could improve access and lower costs.

No mention of short-time sops for the Tea Party opposition. That doesn't mean there won't be some. The big offer is the promise to rework the entire Medicaid system, of which the private option is a small percentage, in a way far more palatable to conservatives.

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