From left, state Sens. Keith Ingram, D-West Memphis, John Cooper, R-Jonesboro, and Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, and state Reps. Deborah Ferguson, D-West Memphis, and Michelle Gray, R-Melbourne, hold a news conference Tuesday at the state Capitol to discuss their alternative to Gov. Asa Hutchinsonís proposal to lower Medicaid costs through managed care. (Arkansas News Bureau/John Lyon)

LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson has acquiesced to a request from legislative leaders to drop a controversial proposal on managed care from his call for a special legislative session on Medicaid.

LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson has acquiesced to a request from legislative leaders to drop a controversial proposal on managed care from his call for a special legislative session on Medicaid.

Hutchinson issued the call for the session Tuesday morning. He said that during the session, which begins Wednesday, he will ask lawmakers to consider his proposal to continue and revamp the state's Medicaid expansion program, but he excluded from the call his proposal to allow the state to contract with a private company or companies to manage parts of the traditional Medicaid program for dental, behavioral health and developmentally disabled services.

The governor's plan for the program now known as the private option, which he wants to rename Arkansas Works, is expected to receive approval during the special session. But House Speaker Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia, and Senate President Pro Tem Jonathan Dismang, R-Beebe, sent letters to the governor Monday saying there is no consensus on managed care, so consideration of the issue could derail plans for a quick session.

The 2016 fiscal session is set to begin April 13, one week after the start of the special session.

Also Tuesday, a bipartisan group of legislators who oppose the governor's managed-care proposal unveiled a draft bill containing an alternative proposal.

The proposal, called DiamondCare, calls for the state to contract with private companies for administrative services. The state would continue to reimburse health-care providers directly for services, with an exception to allow managed care for dental services.

New Hampshire-based consulting firm The Stephen Group has estimated that Hutchinson's managed-care plan would save the state $1.4 billion over the next five years. It has estimated the DiamondCare plan would save $1.06 billion over the same period.

Sen. Keith Ingram, D-West Memphis, said DiamondCare's supporters have not ruled out seeking a vote on their proposal during this week's special session.

"I've said from day one, what scares me about managed care is we are jumping in the deep end of the pool. There is an interim step," he told reporters.

Also Tuesday, consultants with The Stephens Group told the Health Reform Legislative Task Force that if Arkansas were to end the private option and not replace it with anything, uncompensated care costs at Arkansas hospitals would increase by $1.07 billion over the next five years.

The consultants said that since 2010, 71 hospitals in the U.S. have closed, 52 of them in states that rejected Medicaid expansion. Of the 673 U.S. hospitals that have been identified as financially vulnerable by iVantage Health Analytics, 19 are in Arkansas, they said.

State Democratic Party Chairman Vince Insalaco issued a statement Tuesday warning that the results would be "disastrous" if the Legislature were to allow Medicaid expansion to end, cutting off health insurance for more than 250,000 low-income Arkansans and costing the state more than $700 million over the next five years.

"(Hutchinson) should rally Arkansans to call their legislators before the legislative session begins to tell members of his majority that a vote to continue the private option is a vote for Arkansas' future," Insalaco said.

Medicaid expansion has divided Arkansas Republicans since its launch in 2013. Continuing it as Arkansas Works will require a simple-majority vote in each chamber to pass in the special session, but appropriating a new round of funding for it during the fiscal session will require a harder-to-achieve two-thirds majority vote in each chamber.