Elected Officials, Health Care Groups React To Hutchinson Speech

by Steve Brawner ([email protected]) 125 views 

Here are reactions to Gov. Hutchinson’s speech on the private option and health care reform.

Sen. Jonathan Dismang, R-Searcy, Senate president pro tempore and private option architect – “I believe that his comments today and really the thoughtful way that he presented them will help to change the discussion. … I’m certain we’ll have plenty of members that want to come in and kind of visit about the comments today and what exactly that means and the vision, but yeah, again, I think this helps move this in the right direction.”

Sen. David Sanders, R-Little Rock, private option architect – “It was a recognition of the pluses and the minuses, the acknowledgement that it’s a systemic approach both on the total Medicaid population. I think there are a lot of members of the Legislature who have focused on the private option to the detriment of looking at the entire Medicaid budget.”

Sen. Jim Hendren, who has been a private option opponent and is a nephew of Gov. Hutchinson – “It’s just the best we can do.The alternative is a train wreck. … I think it starts a process that hopefully gets us to a goal that we can make good progress that we can all agree on.”

Will he vote yes?

“Absolutely. As I said, I wasn’t in favor of boarding the flight, flying to 30,000 feet, and now that we’re here, I’m not in favor of crashing it, either. I think we have to be responsible with how we move forward. … I think it’s a reasonable approach.”

Rep. Josh Miller, R-Heber Springs, private option opponent – “The devil’s going to be in the details. There’s still a lot of details to be looked through right here. It’s going to be tough for those of us who are hard-line conservatives to come around on this, especially if the federal government’s not going to cooperate with a cap on enrollment or something. We’ve got to make sure that Arkansas can afford what we’re doing, even for the next two years, and that’s our biggest concern. … I would classify myself as still an open-minded no.”

Rep. Mary Broadaway, D-Paragould – “Gov. Hutchinson is very pragmatic in his decision to continue health care reform (the Private Option) at least in the short run. This decision is part of his overall vision to provide income tax relief for the middle class which would be virtually impossible without the federal funds that are flowing into the state because of the Private Option. I am hopeful that he will be thoughtful and deliberate about the changes that he will propose to the administration of health care in the long run, as they will effect hundreds of thousands of Arkansans. I am confident that both parties can come together to create reasonable solutions to our health care issues for our citizens.”

Sen. Cecile Bledsoe, R-Rogers – “There is an end to the private option. It’s very reasonable. It will give us a chance to help the people that are on the private option either with jobs or job training or find some kind of access to health care, so I think all of that was very, very wise. … I would prefer that we do it immediately, we repeal it immediately. …. I could vote for this, but I’d like to see a bill for total repeal first and see where that goes, and then I think this is a good start. … I’m reserving my opinion.”

Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View – “We’ve got to, I think, hit pause and then decide how we move together in the future and do it in a way that is fully vetting the issue, and so I really appreciate that approach because I don’t think that approach has been taken in the past, and I appreciated that we’re taking that approach moving forward. … I have to look at legislation. I have to see how all of that folds in together, and so we’ve got to have those discussions and those dialogues with one another in the Legislature. … I don’t see (the private option) as continuing. I see it as, this is when it’s going to come to an end – Dec. 31, 2016.”

Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, R-Ark. – “Governor Hutchinson’s decision to end the private option and to embark upon comprehensive Medicaid reform is exactly the right approach: The private option was never a sustainable or permanent solution, and only comprises a relatively small portion of the Medicaid program. The Governor’s plan is thoughtful and deliberate and will result in a responsible, innovative and historic solution that will provide quality health care to those in need, without busting the budget or raising taxes on hardworking Arkansans. For years, I have advocated for more state control over the Medicaid program. Governor Hutchinson understands the benefit of more state control and increased flexibility from the Federal Government, and he will demand it. I look forward to helping the Governor and the Legislature pursue comprehensive, effective, affordable, responsible and permanent Medicaid reform.”

U.S. Sen. and (former Gov.) David Pryor – “I thought it was solid. I thought he threaded the needle. He had very little wiggle room in this, and I thought he threaded the needle well. … I don’t know another way that he could have gone today. I really do not. And I think that’s he got to basically put this issue, I don’t want to say on the back burner, but a temporary delay in solving the crisis or the issue. He does not want this getting in the way of everything else he has.”

Bo Ryall, Arkansas Hospital Association – “I thought it was all positive. The governor laid out a pathway to retain the private option for the next two years, which gives some stability, as he said, to hospitals. … Hospitals are suffering from Medicare reductions, uncompensated care for the uninsured, so the private option over the next two years doesn’t totally backfill those numbers, but it certainly will help hospitals to maintain the services they currently have, avoid layoffs, and some hospitals avoid closure.”

David Wroten, Arkansas Medical Society – “I thought it was an excellent speech. There’s been so much anticipation of what the governor might say, concern about the future of the private option, and he hit all the high spots. He talked about the need to address the 40 percent of the private option enrollees that reported no income, the fact that we need to emphasize work, which I think everybody can agree with. We need to stabilize the current private option and get out of this constant every year battle over whether we’re going to approve it or not, and then while we’re keeping that going for a year or two, focus on what we’re going to do in the future.”

Vince Insalaco, Democratic Party of Arkansas Chairman – “The Democratic Party of Arkansas would like to thank Gov. Hutchinson for asking the Legislature to reauthorize the Private Option for the next year. The Private Option, a bipartisan program that has saved local hospitals and provided health insurance to over 200,000 Arkansans who cannot otherwise afford it. It is also important to note that this program would not be possible without the Affordable Care Act, which has also helped tens of thousands of Arkansans who can now obtain insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions, keep their children on their family plans until age 26, and live without fear of exceeding their maximum benefits. We hope that all members of the Legislature will work to educate their constituents regarding the true benefits of the ACA and the Private Option and how it helps all Arkansans.”

David Ray, state director of Americans for Prosperity Arkansas – “While Governor Hutchinson’s proposal lays out some principles that we strongly support, such as seeking flexibility from the federal government and attempting to control costs, reservations remain. Taxpayers need a plan that will freeze enrollment in the private option, allows for an off-ramp that cycles people out of the program and ultimately contains a definitive end date to the Medicaid expansion,” Ray said. “Nevertheless, ending the private option, constructively reforming the health care system, and growing opportunity in the Arkansas economy remain a work in progress, and we look forward to working with Governor Hutchinson and members of the legislature to achieve these goals.”

Rich Huddleston, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families – “Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families would like to applaud Gov. Hutchinson for laying out a pragmatic way forward on the Private Option, guaranteeing Arkansans affordable coverage, giving hospitals and health care providers more certainty, and protecting the state budget in the process. … The governor said he will create a task force that will offer advice and direction for the program’s future. It is essential that this task force include health coverage and consumer advocates who speak up for Arkansas’s low-income children and families.”

Mike Stock, President and CEO, Qualchoice of Arkansas – “I don’t think I was really surprised by the decision to continue the private option. It’s a big chunk of money, and it would be hard for the state to walk away from that. It’s beneficial to the hospitals. But I agree that something has to be thought through and a plan has to be put in place to be as cost-effective down the road as possible. We just can’t sort of let it chug along without really monitoring it and planning out what’s going to happen long-term.”