Thursday, January 16, 2014

What's at stake in the debate over the "private option" for Medicaid expansion

Posted By on Thu, Jan 16, 2014 at 10:29 AM


Arkansas Advocates put together the video above, which tells the story of Jennifer Trader, a self-employed Springdale mother of two who gained health coverage through the "private option." Expect to hear more stories like this in the coming months, with the legislature set to determine whether to continue to appropriate funds for the policy — which uses Medicaid funds to pay for private health insurance for low-income Arkansans — in the February fiscal session. More than 120,000 people have applied for coverage  so far, and 90,000 and counting have been deemed eligible. More than 200,000 Arkansans are projected to sign up eventually. 

The policy ins and outs can get complicated, but the stakes are simple and stark: If the legislature refuses to re-appropriate the "private option," they will be taking health insurance away from Trader and tens of thousands of others. 

Someone on Twitter recently asked Rep. Joe Farrer (who told us that prior to the Affordable Care Act, "there was nobody complaining that they didn’t have health care") what he would tell the people in his county (5,538 through January 10) who would be stripped of health care if Farrer and his allies succeed in de-funding the "private option." Farrer responded, "I tell them that we are going to develop a plan that will last longer than 3yrs and will save Ark taxpayers billions of $." Farrer was then asked what this alternate plan to help the uninsured was. He did not respond. 


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