Keep It Up, Arkansas


Keep It Up, Arkansas

As Arkansans and especially our legislators begin yet again to consider the ways we provide health insurance to our poorest and most vulnerable neighbors, it was encouraging to see our state’s previous efforts recognized by a major publication.

On March 25, the Los Angeles Times took a close look at what Arkansas has done with Obamacare, although none in Arkansas dare call it that.

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Noting that Arkansans die an average of three years younger than the average for Americans (and five years younger than residents of the healthiest states, Minnesota and Hawaii), Times reporter Noam Levey wrote:

“But unlike most unhealthy states, Arkansas moved aggressively to upgrade its healthcare system after President Obama signed the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

“Democrats and Republicans in the statehouse undertook an unusual bipartisan initiative to broaden the state’s Medicaid program through the health law. Since 2013, Arkansas has tied with Kentucky for largest percentage decline in uninsured. By contrast, no other Southern state elected to guarantee its residents health insurance.

“Less noted, Arkansas state leaders also looked hard at how doctors and hospitals across the state were delivering care.”

This is the real promise of health care reform: Forcing all players — private insurers, employers, the state and the providers — to rethink the system that has made America’s way the most costly in the world by far while delivering less than chart-topping results.

Arkansas’ success is winning the right kind of attention. More importantly, as Dr. Jeffrey Angel of Batesville told the Times, our friends and relatives and even ourselves are seeing and feeling the improvements.

“When you see how much better this is … how much happier patients are, you don’t mind the hard work,” Angel said.

Please, General Assembly, keep Arkansas at the forefront of a very positive change.