Arkansas private option continues to get rave reviews | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Arkansas private option continues to get rave reviews

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 11:08 AM

Here's yet another rave review for the Arkansas private option Medicaid expansion. It's from the Kaiser Family Foundation. It repeats many things you've heard before. The program has:

* Reduced the number of uninsured.

* Brought down the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and others.

* Strengthened the insurance marketplace.

The brief could have added that a whopping infusion of federal dollars has also buttressed other elements of the state budget and stimulated the Arkansas economic through tens of millions spent to provide coverage for some 260,000 additional Arkansans.

It is by no means certain that the Republican legislature will continue the program or that Gov. Asa Hutchinson won't damage it with crippling amendments to placate his right-wing base by making it less useful and more expensive for those covered. (Take away non-emergency transportation coverage for rural working poor, for example, and you guarantee a drop in preventive care and more expensive future health problems.)

The topic becomes relevant as the same right-wing base that hates Obamacare rails against raising the fuel tax to shore up a crumbling highway repair and construction program. They call instead for "creative" solutions.

Short of magically pulling greenbacks from a top hat, the only way to produce more money for roads without raising the fuel tax is to take the money from some other current recipient. A natural target would be the undeserving working poor and their medical coverage. Remember that the Hutchinson-Republican legislature income tax cut gave not a penny of benefits to the bottom 40 percent of working taxpayers, while giving increasing benefits up to a TOTAL tax exemption for capital gains of people making $100 million.

The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, through shills such as Rep. Bob Ballinger, also have other creativity in mind, such as taking away the share of fuel tax money that goes to city and county road and street programs. Sure. Then, the local devastation can be replaced by more punishing sales taxes to preserve local services.

PS — One point to note on the Kaiser report, as explained by them:

One thing to note: the analysis relies upon both hard data and interviews with state officials, providers, insurance carriers and consumer advocates – all of which were gathered and done in the spring of 2015. That’s well before the recent issues with the state’s eligibility verifications process that have led to thousands of people losing their coverage through the private option. I understand that subject is very much in the news these days, but our analysis pre-dates it by several months, and that topic isn’t covered in the paper.

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