Hundreds Attend Arkansas Medicaid Rally

by Chuck Bartels, The Associated Press  on Thursday, Mar. 7, 2013 2:59 pm  

"So far, every question has been answered, and every one that's been asked and been answered has resulted in positive feedback, not negative feedback," Beebe said.

Dr. Clark Fincher, a physician from Searcy, told the gathering that expanding Medicaid would improve outcomes and increase access to health providers while reducing "the burden of uncompensated care."

He also said a Rand Corp. study showed the expansion would save 2,300 lives per year - six per day - and create 6,200 jobs.

Faye Graham of Little Rock said from the podium that she is "one of the newly minted poor," rendered so by treatment of two types of cancers. She said she was treated in three states, had to move four times and is now homeless.

"The entire country needs it (the Medicaid expansion) desperately, and I personally need it desperately," she said.

Graham said she holds and advanced degree and that her three children graduated from exclusive colleges. She noted that the end of a marriage can leave a former spouse uninsured.

"We are one broken relationship away from ruin," said Graham, adding she holds three jobs but is still uninsured.

Earlier Thursday, House Public Health Committee Chairman Rep. John Burris, R-Harrison, reaffirmed that while Republicans saw opportunity in expanding health care coverage under the new private option they had not yet fully embraced the idea.

"I just don't want the perception to be that there is already an agreement because nothing could be further from the truth," Burris told lawmakers on the panel. He said the new option had opened a Pandora's Box of issues that Republicans were still reviewing.

"Everybody's' striving for the end of the session, but 30 days is not that much time for the level of discussion we have to have," he said, leaving open the possibility that lawmakers would have to convene a special session to take up the issue.

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