Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 15:08:00
The Obama administration released new numbers this morning
on enrollment in plans on the new marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act
. As expected, enrollment in November was significantly up compared to October as healthcare.gov
— the federally run website used by 36 states for signups — has steadily improved. Enrollment spikes on healthcare.gov have been even higher in December
, so the trend line you see above will likely be even more dramatic when enrollments from this month are included.
In total — including both people that signed up on healthcare.gov and people using the state websites, which have generally functioned better — 364,682 Americans have enrolled in private plans through November 30. In Arkansas, 1,404 have enrolled in a private plan. As with the rest of the country, enrollment in Arkansas has increased significantly since October (when only 250 successfully enrolled) but still lags behind initial projections. While the big national numbers probably matter politically for Obamacare, when we think about how well the policy will "work," we'll likely get different answers in different states, each of which has its own marketplace.
The pro-Obamacare spin is that enrollment is picking up rapidly; the anti-Obamacare spin is that it's well behind the original targets. We'll know much more once December numbers are in. There's reason to believe the next batch of numbers will be impressive. As of the end of November, more than 2 million Americans have completed an application and been deemed eligible but haven't yet picked a plan, and we know that in the early days of December, tens of thousands were enrolling per day.
All of the numbers above refer only to private plans. Almost 1.5 million Americans
enrolled in Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program just through the end of October.
One thing worth noting about Arkansas in particular: because of the "private option," the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace
will have a large pool of people in addition to the population that sign up to buy private plans. Around 70,000 Arkansans have enrolled in the "private option." In addition, more than 11,000 Arkansans were determined eligible for Medicaid by healthcare.gov, and most of them will end up in "private option" plans. That should help insulate the state from worst-case scenarios in terms of low enrollment (while the government is fully picking up the tab for "private option" premiums, from the insurance companies' perspective, "private option" beneficiaries are still tens of thousands more customers).
Thus far Arkansas is somewhat lagging behind in enrollment (though not if we include the "private option" folks) — after the jump, see a chart from Josh Barro at Business Insider
comparing Obamacare signups by state. I've mentioned this before, but I think it's worth stepping back from the politics and remembering what's at stake here. If Arkansas fails to attract a large and relatively healthy pool of people to the marketplace, the result will be higher premiums for thousands of Arkansans dependent on the marketplace for insurance.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 12:40:00
Wouldn't you know it? The day after the Times
philanthropy issue goes to press comes word from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
of a $1 million gift for its Breast Center.
Longtime supporter Stuart Cobb,
who was one of the founders of the gift shop at the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute,
was the donor. Her donation will support construction and services to the Breast Center, to be located on the third floor of the cancer institute. The Breast Center is now located in the Outpatient Center.
Cobb is also a charter member of the Cancer Institute Auxiliary, and was its president in 1991-92. She serves on the Cancer Institute Foundation Fund board.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 09:41:00
The coaching carousel continues at Arkansas State
, with Bryan Harsin
leaving after one season, the third year in a row the Red Wolves
have lost their coach to another school after just one season. Harsin will take over as head coach at Boise State, where he was an offensive coordinator for five years from 2006-2011.
This year's squad wasn't as dominant as the teams under the one-year tenures of Hugh Freeze, who left for Ole Miss after 2011 and Gus Malzahn, who left for Auburn after 2012, but they did win a share of their third straight Sun Belt Conference championship — so perhaps they should embrace the one-and-done approach, sort of the Kentucky basketball of football coaches.
Jim Harris of Sporting Life Arkansas has suggested in the past that they hire Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee
, the 30-year-old hotshot protege of Malzahn. Lashlee spent a year as offensive coordinator of A-State under Malzahn and is a Springdale native who was a backup quarterback for the Arkansas Razorbacks. He's an up-and-coming name in coaching circles, so there's a good chance they'd keep up the one-year pattern if they go with Lashlee.
More Arkansas Blog
Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 08:27:00
'PAGANS ON BOBSLEDS XXII: NICE AND NAUGHTY'
8 p.m. The Public Theater. $8-$10.
If ever there were a holiday that needed an occasional smart-alecky jab to take the wind out of its sails just a bit, it's Christmas. And for more than two decades, Red Octopus Theater
has been taking that jab, with sketches that (lovingly) skewer those sentimental Yuletide traditions.
This year marks the 22nd edition of Pagans on Bobsleds, and it will be marked with sketches old and classic, as well as songs, songs, songs. Some of the ol' faves will include The Solvecki Brothers ("selling their collection of emotional songs for guys"), Fauzio (with "Christmas party fashion tips") and the Old Lady (who'll be "wheeled out for a reading from her memoirs").
New sketches include: "Santas from Around the World," "Celebrity Wish List," "Law & Order: North Pole" and "Unjustified Elves."
Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 07:20:00
8 p.m. The Cavern (in Russellville).
If you've been digging the ongoing '90s indie rock fixation/revival of the last few years, what with these groups of youngsters getting together to craft fuzzy guitar rock with catchy melodies and a Pavement/Dinosaur Jr./Yo La Tango kinda vibe (Yuck, Weekend, PAWS, many others), then you really ought to check out Swearin
' of Philadelphia.
This crew has released two albums since last year, both rooted in buzzsaw pop-punk and that enduring Pixies-style quiet/loud dynamic. Singers Kyle Gilbride and Allison Crutchfield offer appealing sweet 'n' gruff vocal counterpoints that suit this style of music well.
The group's new record, "Surfing Strange," finds them stretching out from their DIY, house-show roots, from scrappy punk to something with a bit more nuanced. That said, it's not a radical shift in direction or anything. Also on this bill: Pecan Sandy
and Rad Rad Riot
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 - 21:31:00
Acclaimed singer/songwriter Malcolm Holcombe
returns to White Water Tavern Thursday at 9 p.m.
More Rock Candy