Posted 11/26/2012 12:00 am
The federal government has given the state of Arkansas, along with a number of other states, a second chance to establish its own state-run health insurance exchange. Legislators, harkening to Republican wishful thinking and anti-Obama sentiment, muffed the first chance for Arkansans to have greater control over the implementation of the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare.
The federal government, mindful of the new realities of the post-election political universe, has extended to Dec. 14 the deadline for states to decide how the exchanges will be run, whether they will be operated completely by the federal government, as a state-federal partnership or run by the states.
Gov. Mike Beebe, ever the insightful pragmatist, noted, “It’s obvious that the federal government doesn’t want to do this, or they wouldn’t have extended this deadline.”
Perhaps the governor is thinking that with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the act and the re-election of the man who shepherded it to passage, he may be able to persuade the state Legislature, even one now controlled by the GOP, to come around to his way of thinking. That way of thinking is this: The state of Arkansas is better equipped to operate the exchange that will provide about 326,000 residents a clearinghouse where they can shop for health insurance.
The exchange is critical to the success of the Affordable Care Act. That very fact may doom it in the eyes of those who would rather President Barack Obama’s key initiative fail than that their fellow citizens have access to affordable health care.
As others have noted, Obamacare is now the law of the land. Perhaps it will fail. Perhaps it should fail. But Arkansas’ people deserve a shot at what is likely to be their best chance of obtaining health insurance — and care — in a generation.