Governor Signs Health Care Independence Act
Governor Mike Beebe signed the Health Care Independence Act into law on April 23, 2013. The enabling legislation, HB1143, is now Act 1498. The appropriation for the measure, which passed the House with 77 votes, is now Act 1496.
The bills allow for the Department of Human Services to pay for health insurance premiums for individuals who would otherwise qualify for Medicaid. That would be adults ages 19 to 65 years old with an income of 138% or less of the federal poverty level, currently that amount is an annual income of $15,414 for a single individual or $30,809 for a family of four. There are approximately 250,000 Arkansans who would qualify.
The funding to pay for the premiums would come from federal Medicaid funding. The state gradually picks up a percentage of the tab. By 2020, the state is expected to pay the maximum of 10%. A provision is written into the bill that should federal funding provisions change, the state can terminate the program within 120 days.
The bills also stipulate that at least two qualified health plans are available in each county of the state.