Federal Mandate on Medicaid Coverage to Hit Arkansas in 2017

A mandate in the new healthcare law that's been overshadowed by all the attention on the Supreme Court ruling is expanding Medicaid coverage.

Currently, Medicaid covers children from low-income households and people with disabilities mostly.
The federal government is requiring states to expand coverage to include adults earning less than $15,000 a year.

Some estimates show the requirement will add 17 million people to Medicaid coverage over the next 10 years.

At issue: How will Arkansas be able to pay for it?

As it stands, Arkansas could see a shortfall between $250 million to $450 million before the new law goes into effect.

Lars Powell, a healthcare insurance expert at UALR, says so far no one has come up with any ideas.

The big challenge for lawmakers is coming up with a way to pay for Medicaid expansion that is palatable to taxpayers, he said.

A spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe said Arkansas will likely start feeling the budget impact of the new Medicaid rule starting in 2017.

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