Arkansas Sees Huge ACA Benefits, Texas Pays

Texas’ neighbor to the Northeast has seen some big benefits from the Affordable Care Act, and more specifically the state’s uniquely crafted Private Option Expansion.  Here’s the story from Andy Davis of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Arkansas had a bigger drop this year in the percentage of its adult residents who lack insurance than any other state, a survey released Tuesday found.

The survey by Gallup Inc. found that 12.4 percent of Arkansas adults lacked insurance as of mid year this year, a drop of 10.1 percentage points compared with 22.5 percent who lacked insurance last year.

As a result, the state went from having the second-highest rate of uninsured adults in the country, ahead of only Texas, to being tied with New Hampshire at No. 22 in the percentage of adults who reported having insurance.

[…]

In a statement, Gov. Mike Beebe noted that the Gallup survey indicates the number of uninsured adults in the state fell by 45 percent.

“When we worked with the Arkansas Legislature to pass the Private Option, we said it would make Arkansas a national leader for innovative health-care solutions, and this report proves that to be true,” Beebe said. “Even though not everyone was happy with the circumstances surrounding the Affordable Care Act in our state, we showed that we could find a bipartisan path to make the best of the situation and help our people.”

Amy Webb, an Arkansas Department of Human Services spokesman, said in an email, “The Private Option is the reason Arkansas is at the top of the list.

“We can’t say exactly how many enrollees were uninsured before, but we know these people are the working poor, and it’s likely many couldn’t afford insurance or it wasn’t offered to them.”

She noted that Texas, which did not expand Medicaid, had the highest rate of adults who lacked insurance in the country last year and as of mid year this year, although the rate fell from 27 percent of adults last year to 24 percent this year.

As discussed previously, that 3 percent drop is due in large part to more people just discussing healthcare during so many heated Obamacare battles.  But as Arkansas has proven, so much more is left to be done to help the people of Texas.  Literally millions of people are being denied access to healthcare because of short-sighted decisions from a few Republican lawmakers in Austin.

Here’s the part that the Democrat-Gazette doesn’t share… the money being used to provide healthcare for Arkansans comes from Texas taxpayers.  We send our money to Washington so it can get invested in other states, while our citizens live in constant fear of a health crisis. Here’s more from the Commonwealth Fund

The 20 states choosing not to expand their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act are forgoing billions of dollars in federal funds, while residents in their states are contributing to the cost of the expansions in other states, according to a new Commonwealth Fund study.

After taking into account federal taxes paid by state residents, states with the highest net losses include Texas, which will see a net loss of $9.2 billion in 2022; Florida, which will lose $5 billion; Georgia, which will lose $2.9 billion, and Virginia, which will lose $2.8 billion.

Even now on Abbott’s website, he remains fully committed to destroying the law, while offering no alternative solution for how to help the 6 million Texans lacking any insurance options.  Instead, he and other Texas Republicans claim that the Obamacare money is some sort of “gimmick” by the Federal government.  They say there is no way that the deal offered by the Obama administration would actually last, and that it will somehow leave states on the hook for healthcare costs later.

What they keep forgetting to mention?  Texas is on the hook for healthcare costs nowHospitals in the Lone Star state are already burdened with $5 billion dollars annually in uncompensated care, a cost that is passed on to all Texans via higher insurance premiums. Given that the state is currently in the midst of an historic population boom (led by low-wage, no-insurance jobs), we can expect those costs to keep going UP.

Meanwhile in Arkansas, preliminary numbers show a 24 percent decrease of uninsured patients at the emergency room, with a 2 percent decrease of overall ER visits.

Thankfully this November, we have a clear choice. A vote for Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte is a vote to support healthcare expansion in the state, and to reclaim tax dollars that we are sending elsewhere.  Arkansas found a bi-partisan, common sense solution that is saving lives today.  Instead of paying for their prosperity, isn’t it time for Texas to do the same?

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