Henderson Now - April 2016

Dear Campus Community,

Good morning!  I wanted to take a moment to inform you of a recent development in the Arkansas legislature that may impact our university. 

Last week at the request of Governor Hutchinson, the Arkansas General Assembly convened in a special session for the purpose of determining the state’s future response to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act.  Previously, our state adopted the private option for Medicaid expansion to provide healthcare coverage for the poorest individuals in our state and as a means of absorbing tax cuts without substantially impairing the state’s delivery of essential services, including higher education.

Last week, the House and Senate voted to replace the private option with Arkansas Works, Governor Hutchinson’s signature plan for Medicaid expansion that imposes, among other things, work-related requirements for healthcare recipients while maintaining healthcare coverage for approximately 267,000 individuals in our state.  The vote for Arkansas Works required only a simple majority to pass both chambers. 

On Wednesday, the Arkansas General Assembly will enter into a fiscal legislative session where they will vote on the appropriations bill for the state’s Department of Human Services’ Division of Medical Services.  This will include a decision on whether to fund the recently passed Arkansas Works Medicaid expansion plan.  In order to pass, the appropriations bill must secure a three-fourths majority vote in both the House, 75 votes, and the Senate, 27 votes.

In the event funds are not appropriated for Arkansas Works later this week, the state will be facing a shortfall in excess of $100 million.  History and current indicators strongly suggest that higher education will bear a significant portion of budget cuts that will be required to eliminate this potential budgetary shortfall.

We are watching this legislative development very closely and will keep you apprised of all developments that impact Henderson State and higher education in general.

In Reddie Spirit,
Glen Jones