On Wednesday (May 15), Gov. Mike Beebe (D) told attendees at the Arkansas Rural Development Conference that he has talked to as many as 10 governors from other states about Arkansas’ recently-passed private option health insurance expansion plan.
Arkansas lawmakers passed the Health Care Independence Act, which was largely crafted by GOP legislators in conjunction with the Beebe administration. The plan outlines the framework for allowing Arkansas to use Medicaid expansion money from the federal government to subsidize health insurance for low-income workers in a forthcoming health insurance exchange.
The primary benefit of the law will be to provide currently uninsured citizens who earn up to 138% of the federal poverty level to obtain insurance. By some state estimates, that universe could include as many as 250,000 Arkansans.
Rob Moritz with our content partner, the Arkansas News Bureau, reports from the rural development conference in Hot Springs:
Speaking to more than 200 rural leaders at the Hot Springs Convention Center, Beebe said the argument that ultimately persuaded many Republicans who ran against President Obama’s Medicaid expansion program to support the state’s private pay option was the penalty that small businesses would have to pay if the state had not participated.
“The truth is, effectively, if this had this not passed … businesses in Arkansas would have been hit with $38 million in more money and rural hospitals would have been severely impacted and in many instances closed,” he said. “The argument that persuaded a lot of the legislators was the tax argument.”
Beebe told reporters after his speech that he has discussed the private option approved with about 10 other governors.
“I’ve had about three or four Southern governors of both parties, incidental, and about another five or six from different parts of the country, both Republicans and Democrats,” he said.
You can read more of Moritz’s report at this link.