The state of Arkansas will submit its formal request for a waiver to federal Medicaid officials in August – a move necessary to advance the “private option” plan approved by state lawmakers in the recently concluded legislative session.

Arkansas Department of Human Services director John Selig told a joint Public Health panel on Thursday that the paperwork would be submitted, but plans to install the massive health insurance overhaul will push forward this summer.

John Lyon with our content partner, the Arkansas News Bureau, reports:

“In August is when we anticipate actually submitting the document to (the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services), with the hope that we’ll get approval back by Oct. 1, because Oct. 1 is when … we can start enrolling people in these plans for coverage that begins Jan. 1,” Selig told lawmakers Thursday.

Cindy Crone, director of health insurance exchange planning for the state Insurance Department, said the state is in the process of contracting with 30 organizations — three of them government-based and the others non-government-based — that will provide workers known as guides to help consumers enroll in insurance plans through the exchange. The state will use federal money to award the contracts and expects about 637 guides to be hired at $12 an hour, she said.

Guides are one of four types of assisters who will help people use the exchange. The others are navigators, who will be hired by the federal government; certified application counselors, who will be employees of entities such as hospitals, community health centers or consumer nonprofit organizations; and insurance agents or brokers.

The assisters are required under the Affordable Care Act and would be needed with or without the private option.

Training for all four groups of assisters will be provided through the state’s two-year colleges and will begin in mid-June. Federal grants will fund the training.

You can read more legislative reaction and additional details at this link.

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