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Arkansas legislators send 8 bills related to state’s health insurance plans to governor

Arkansas’ state lawmakers on Wednesday completed action on eight bills that would make changes in state laws about the governing, financing and other matters regarding the state’s health insurance plans that cover more than 100,000 current and retired public school and state employees.

The state Senate voted to send four of the bills to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and the state House of Representatives voted to send the four other bills to the Republican governor.

The eight bills largely reflect the recommendations of the consulting firm The Segal Group that the Legislative Council approved Nov. 19. The firm’s recommendations are aimed at stabilizing funding and cutting costs for the two health insurance plans.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jimmy Hickey, R-Texarkana, said in an interview that “the biggest benefit is immediately with our consultants we are projecting to save a minimum of $70 million” a year.

He said the measures also are aimed at fixing the state’s two health insurance plans for the public school and state employees and retirees “for the long-term and require that conversation [about the funding for the plans] to come up annually, so we can deal with increased health care costs, whether or not we need to put [state] money in that at that particular time, or premiums need to be raised.”

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