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Arkansas has one of the most restrictive Medicaid programs in the United States. Now, one in four Arkansans is uninsured. Unless pregnant or disabled, childless adults don't qualify for Medicaid, even though they are destitute. Eighty-thousand low-income parents in Arkansas do not qualify for Medicaid. To qualify, parents must be supporting two children on an income of less than $2,996.

The federal government's plan to expand Medicaid subsidies to the states would change that. It would raise income eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($15,000 for individuals, $31,800 for a family of four), providing insurance to 211,970 Arkansans ages 18-64 who are currently uninsured. The new limit would help the working poor who, though they are employed — sometimes at more than one job — still can't afford to buy a health insurance policy. The government pays for the extended coverage for the first three years; after that, the state will pick up 10 percent of the cost. Arkansas would save $350,000,000 between 2014 and 2025, according to the state Department of Human Services.

The plan requires legislative approval. Legislators may wish to consult the map here, showing county by county how many Arkansans would benefit from the Affordable Care Act's move to reform Medicaid, before they vote.

Map data via Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. Find it and more data at http://bit.ly/ARMedicaid

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