Letter from Sec. Sylvia Burwell encouraging of governor's proposed reforms; looks like no asset test | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Letter from Sec. Sylvia Burwell encouraging of governor's proposed reforms; looks like no asset test

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2016 at 10:04 AM

The governor yesterday received a letter from federal Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell regarding proposed changes to the private option, the state's unique version of Medicaid expansion. The letter was released publicly minutes ago. 

Burwell recounts in the letter that the they have been in discussions over four major goals: "incentivizing work; increasing personal responsibility; increasing program integrity; and supporting employer-based insurance coverage." 

"You outlined a number of specific changes in support of these goals, and many are quite innovative," Burwell writes. "In some cases, they also push the bounds of what is allowable under federal Medicaid law and raise concerns about potential adverse impacts on beneficiaries. However, I am hopeful that we can work together to find acceptable approaches to reform in each of your focus area." 

The secretary's letter has scant details beyond that (although she note that "the detail will be important"). 

"HHS cannot approve a demonstration until it has been submitted and reviewed under our transparency process," Burwell writes. 

In other words, the governor has general approval for his broad framework, but they still need to iron out the fine print. 

About that broad framework: the governor, who will speak to the task force shortly, also released today a list of key elements of Arkansas Works. One thing that is not included on that list: an asset test that would charge beneficiaries a fee if they had substantial assets, such as a house worth $200,000. That likely signals that the feds have already denied Hutchinson's request for an asset test.  

Updates coming soon once the governor speaks. 

Support for special health care reporting made possible by the Arkansas Public Policy Panel.

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