Gov. Mike Beebe (D) used his weekly radio address to tout his efforts to overhaul the state’s Medicaid system, which will face a critical funding shortfall under current conditions by next year.
"The current fee-for-service model is unsustainable, and we are facing shortfalls in our Medicaid budget that could soon lead us to slash services for thousands of Arkansans, unless we take action to reform the system. After six months of discussion with federal officials, doctors, insurance companies and providers, we have begun to narrow our focus on where to begin this unprecedented effort," said Beebe.
Arkansas must receive permission from the U.S. regulators to make changes to its Medicaid system as the federal government matches state Medicaid payments by an approximate 3-to-1 ratio.
Talk Business’ Jason Tolbert reported earlier this week on a letter Beebe sent to federal officials identifying 9 key areas that he expects the state to look to make changes. It also outlined a July 2012 benchmark date to begin changes to Medicaid payments.
"We’ve set a benchmark date of July 2012 to change the payment structure in these nine areas, but it could very well take longer. While we are very wary of the looming Medicaid budget shortfalls, we will take time to gather input and data and make sure this is done right," Beebe said in his address.
He also sought to distinguish the state effort from critics’ assertions that Arkansas’ Medicaid reform is tied to federal health care reform efforts.
"There are those still trying to confuse the issue and tie our efforts to last year’s federal health-care-reform law for political reasons. As hard as they try, the truth remains that Arkansas’s efforts are our own. We must find a better way to pay for health care in Arkansas, regardless of the legal fate of the Affordable Care Act. We are stepping forward to address the problem before we are faced with the unwelcome choice of raising taxes or slashing services," Beebe said.