A Gallup poll found that 12.4 percent of Arkansans were uninsured at midyear, down 45 percent from last year. A survey by the Arkansas Hospital Association found that uncompensated care fell by more than 56 percent in the first six months of the year.
We know that these excellent indicators are primarily the result of the “private option,” Arkansas’ unique approach to the Affordable Care Act’s goal of expanding Medicaid to the working poor that has reached 204,000.
This is an Opinion
While much has been claimed in the course of the recent election about Arkansans losing insurance coverage because of Obamacare, the dramatic decline in the total number of uninsured suggests that the number who lost insurance has been overwhelmed by the number who gained it. That’s simple math.
Anything associated with President Obama is deeply unpopular in Arkansas, and that is reflected in the recent election results. And we understand that reauthorizing the private option will be mathematically difficult because its overwhelming popularity in the 89th General Assembly — 75 percent support in both houses — was still the bare minimum necessary for an appropriation, and some of those favorable votes will not be around for the 90th.
But we remain hopeful that our new governor, Asa Hutchinson, will look at the math and lead his party to continue the private option in some form. We’re hopeful in spite of the electoral math for three reasons:
- Hutchinson named private option supporter Michael Lamoureux, the departing Senate president pro-tem, as his chief of staff;
- A challenge to the ascension of private option proponent Jonathan Dismang to the pro-tem position fizzled almost immediately; and
- Those 204,000 private option enrollees are our relatives, our neighbors, our employees. They are more than just math.