LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday he will ask the Legislature next year to approve using some of the state’s tobacco settlement money to reduce the number of developmentally disabled people on a waiting list for home- and community-based services.
More than 3,000 people are on the waiting list, some of them since 2007. Earlier this year, Hutchinson proposed using savings from his managed-care plan for Medicaid to reduce the list by half, but he dropped the managed-care plan in the face of legislative resistance.
Hutchinson’s new proposal is to use $8.5 million from the state’s 1999 settlement with tobacco companies, plus federal matching funds, to provide enough services to take between 500 and 1,000 people off the waiting list, spokesman J.R. Davis said.
The money previously funded the AR Health Networks, an insurance program that ended in 2013 when Arkansas expanded its Medicaid program.
With federal matching funds, the state would be able to increase funding for developmentally disabled services by between $29.5 million and $30 million, Davis said.
Hutchinson has discussed the idea with several legislators, and on Tuesday he announced the plan at a meeting of the state Tobacco Settlement Commission, Davis said.
“This is a very big step, and we’ll continue to look for ways to continue to reduce that wait list,” Davis said.