Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday discussed the Community and Employment Supports Medicaid waiver that provides services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Hutchinson said the waiver serves more than 5,000 Arkansans, but for many years there has been a significant waiting list for thousands of Arkansans waiting for an open waiver slot. There are currently 3,204 individuals on the waiting list; 1,861 of those have incomes low enough to receive basic medical services. The remainder receives no services at all.

“The Developmentally Disabled waiting list is of great concern to us. We have a commitment and a plan to address that,” Hutchinson said at his weekly news briefing. “We have been working on this with Secretary Gillespie and Director Stone for many months.”

Hutchinson announced a plan that will provide everyone on the waiting list, as of December, with services. He said that he has submitted a waiver request today to open 200 new slots which will be funded through existing revenues.

He also said he will ask the General Assembly to add language to dedicate $37.6 million of the $60 million being given to DHS to allow everyone on the waitlist to join the waiver by June of 2025.

Hutchinson said a plan to address the waitlist has been a project that he has worked on since day one. Under his administration, 1,200 additional slots were to serve more clients and he has continued to work to further eliminate the number of individuals waiting for services. This plan to eliminate the waitlist by 2025 has been in development for several months

“That list represents thousands of Arkansans, it gives them hope, and it gives them a specific plan as to how to address this great need that we have to meet the needs of our most vulnerable citizens,” Hutchinson said.

More than 300 structures were destroyed or had some kind of damage and some agricultural damage occurred in Northeast Arkansas, according to Hutchinson.

Hutchinson said Public Safety Director AJ Gary is working on this every day with his team. “If there is anything that is needed we’re there to respond to that,” he said. “We have shelters in place, we have volunteer organizations that are working with the needs of the people.”