Originally developed in 2013 as a bipartisan solution to leverage federal funding opportunities made available through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the Health Care Independence Program (HCIP) extended coverage to low-income Arkansans through Medicaid. Rather than expanding coverage through the traditional fee-for-service Medicaid program, the HCIP used Medicaid dollars to purchase individual qualified health plans (QHPs) offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace. The enabling legislation for the HCIP and subsequent legislation passed by the Arkansas General Assembly set a termination date for the HCIP at the end of 2016. Following the nearly year-long deliberations of the Health Reform Legislative Task Force and clear signals from Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson that balancing the state’s budget was contingent upon continued Medicaid expansion funding, the Arkansas General Assembly voted to adopt a new program entitled Arkansas Works. Arkansas Works retains the foundation of the HCIP — individual plan premium assistance — but adds new features intended to strengthen employer-sponsored coverage and promote wellness and personal responsibility.
This fact sheet will describe the legislative intent of Arkansas Works, program eligibility, new program features, and other notable provisions in the enabling legislation.