Here are the latest numbers on the “private option”:
*80,413 have filed applications
*Of those, 68,692 have been determined to be eligible (the rest are still in process)
*58,591 have completed enrollment, either by selecting a plan or via auto-assignment
The “private option” uses Medicaid funds via the Affordable Care Act to fully pay for the premiums of private plans on the Health Insurance Marketplace for low-income Arkansans. Starting in January, the folks that have completed the process will have health insurance. In Arkansas, where one in four adults 19-64 are currently uninsured, we are witnessing a massive change. Right now, the state is one of the stingiest in the nation in terms of looking out for the health of our neediest citizens. Come New Years Day, that will no longer be so.
1) In the spirit of thanksgiving, let’s remember that — while neighboring states settled for ideological rigidity — many Arkansas lawmakers from both parties (often taking considerable risk) backed this unique plan to do right by our citizens. Politics doesn’t always offer much to be thankful for. This was one.
2) Remember those numbers above, which will grow, when you hear pessimistic predictions about re-appropriating the funds for the “private option” in the February fiscal session. For all of the hiccups in the rollout of Obamacare, the “private option” implementation has gone as well as anyone could have hoped — though opponents of the “private option” would love to conflate the separate components of the healthcare law if they can. The political (and moral!) reality is that de-funding this policy means taking away health insurance from tens of thousands (by then potentially nearing 200,000) Arkansans. That’s one of the reasons that for all the hand-wringing, you haven’t heard a single public statement of a “YES” vote flipping to a “NO.”