I saw a news piece on PBS Newshour a few weeks ago about a variation of the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare being done in Arkansas. Governor Mike Beebe and the legislature received permission to use the Medicaid subsidies in the insurance exchanges as they felt the people in need would be better served by insurance companies than under Medicaid. As of last month about 83,000 people had been signed up under the Medicaid expansion. Per the news piece, it is working quite nicely and other governors are taking notice.
Well, to the chagrin of the governor, a new Republican legislator has joined the Arkansas assembly and is convincing others to kill the idea. The GOP argument is the same that is being used in other states when Obamacare phases down its funding of the expansion from 100% to 90% it puts the state on the hook. The Obamacare precept is as people use the system and tap more preventive resources the costs will come down. Three reputable organizations, The Commonwealth Fund, RAND Corporation and Economic Policy Institute have all said the Medicaid expansions is good for state economies and are worth investigation.
The Arkansas model is of interest to me and others. As an Independent voter who is a retired benefits manager and consultant, I would like to see this model continue to see if it is more meritorious than placing the people in need into Medicaid. I also believe it is a model that Republican led states could get behind, as the exchange concept is in keeping with Republican concepts. The truth that does not get talked about enough is, Obamacare, while detested by the GOP for political reasons, can trace its roots to the Heritage Foundation and Romneycare, which was supported for the country by none other than Mr. Tea Party, former Senator Jim DeMint.
Having DeMint’s earlier support does not make anything necessarily a good idea, I just find it ironic and hypocritical of his adamant opposition to Obamacare. If you doubt the veracity of this comment, I encourage you to Google Jim DeMint and Romneycare. And, here is one final truth. Obamacare, now that it is past many of its rollout issues in this phase, is showing promise and is taking shape, building off the earlier phases’ success.
Arkansas, please don’t kill a good pilot. Let’s study it and see if it is a better model. And, please do not kill it for political reasons, as that just hurts people and that would be a shame.