LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas residents could soon have increased access to health care in the state.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the expansion of the state’s ARHOME Medicaid program Tuesday with the addition of Life360 to the program.

The $16 million expansion, funded primarily through federal aid, will provide expanded health care through rural hospitals.

Hutchinson said that the LIFE360 funding is on an 80/20 basis, with the share for Arkansas being funded by $3.2 million drawn from the state’s general fund.

The expansion was approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) the day the governor announced the expansion.

“These Life360 HOMEs are a critical component of the ARHOME program, and the additional services and supports that they will make available to Arkansans across this state have the potential to make a profound impact on the health of our citizens,” Hutchinson said. “Thank you to our federal partners and the teams at the Arkansas Department of Human Services for making this program a reality. I am eager to see the positive outcomes it will bring when it is fully implemented.”

The governor outlined that the program’s emphasis will be on high-risk communities, including high-risk pregnancies, young people, veterans or people just released from prison who will need mental health services.

The program’s outreach will be primarily through rural hospitals, Hutchinson added.

High-risk pregnancy services include care up to 24 months after birth, Hutchinson said, noting that 12,500 women in ARHOME were diagnosed with high-risk pregnancies in 2021.

Other than pregnancy and child care, the program’s mental health outreach will be for young people being released from foster care who are 19 to 27 years old, as well as formerly incarcerated individuals who are 19 to 24 years old. The program will also provide support for veterans 19 to 30 years old.

A growing number in the state need mental health services, Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson emphasized that covering these groups is ultimately a money-saving prospect for the state since less healthy outcomes increase the cost of care over the long term.

Arkansas Health and Opportunity for Me program, ARHOME, was put in place on Jan. 1, replacing the Arkansas Works program. It uses Medicaid funds to purchase health insurance for its clients, with premiums based on income. Income below the federal poverty level of $12,800 per year removes the premium requirement.