PoliticsPress Release

Governor Hutchinson Discusses Weekend Storm Damage, Developmentally Disabled Waitlist

LITTLE ROCK – At his weekly news briefing today, Governor Asa Hutchinson discussed the weekend storms. He also talked about a plan for addressing the Developmentally Disabled waitlist.

Storm Damage Latest

Governor Hutchinson started his weekly briefing by talking about the damage that was caused in parts of the state over the last weekend after a tornado marched through Arkansas.

He announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be deployed to impacted areas Wednesday to assess the damage with local officials.

He noted that more than 300 structures were destroyed or had some kind of damage from the storms. He also mentioned that some agricultural damage occurred in Northeast Arkansas.

“I want to express my continued concern, 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,”  Governor Hutchinson said. “We have shelters in place, we have volunteer organizations that are working with the needs of the people,” he said.

Developmentally Disabled Waitlist

Governor Hutchinson talked about the Community and Employment Supports Medicaid waiver that provides services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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

He noted that 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.

Today, Governor 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 be asking 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.

Governor Hutchinson said that 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.” Governor Hutchinson said.

Director Melissa Stone spoke about the announcement of the plan to deal with the waiting list.

“This is something we have worked on for a very long time. Since he has been in office with this announcement today he has doubled the amount of people that are served on this waiver.” Director Stone said.


Governor Hutchinson announced the new COVID-19 numbers for Tuesday with active cases decreasing by 65 and another 15 deaths to COVID-19 were added.

He noted that our active cases have continued to drop since last week. Vaccinations have increased over the last week with more than 15,000 new vaccinations added in the last 24 hours. He said this is great news showing that we have continued to make progress in vaccinations.

The Secretary of Health at the Arkansas Department of Health Dr. Jose Romero spoke about getting vaccinated and staying safe during the holiday season while many may be gathering together.

You can watch the full briefing HERE.

You can view the slide presentation from today’s briefing HERE.

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