Though he didn't unequivocally say whether he was for or against the governor's desire for a federal ruling on Arkansas healthcare to be appealed, Mat Pitsch on Friday spoke favorably of Arkansas Works in light of the current political situation.

District 8 state Sen. Pitsch, R-Fort Smith, called himself a "proponent" of Arkansas Works and said it leads those who are able to gain employment. His comments come after a federal judge on Wednesday blocked Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky.

"I have the luxury of having been the majority leader in the house, so I know majority leaders in other states. I get lots of phone calls from majority leaders in other states saying, 'How in the world are you doing this? Who came up with that idea? That’s one of the most innovative ideas,'" he said.

Judge James E. Boasberg handed down the ruling after he found that the states' requirements create obstacles to getting healthcare that have not been fixed by federal and state officials. Boasberg said the work requirement in Arkansas Works did not address "whether and how the project would implicate the 'core' objective of Medicaid: the provision of medical coverage to the needy," according to the Associated Press.

Pitsch said there are "plenty of caveats" within Arkansas Works for people who do not have to work. Such exemptions include being more than 50 years old, enrolled in a drug or alcohol treatment program or have a disability like blindness or being wheelchair bound.

"If you’re under a certain age and healthy, then we’d like you to go get a job in order to keep your free healthcare from the government," Pitsch said. "What has happened is, they go get that job, and lo and behold, a lot of our jobs come from the company insurance plan. So that’s how so many people have come off the social welfare with us."

The House of Representatives this week voted 52-28 in favor of a budget bill for Medicaid expansion. The bill would need 75 votes to move from the House to Hutchinson.