Arkansas policy leaders seek ‘prudent progress’ on health insurance reform

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 42 views 

State policy leaders say Arkansans should look for “prudent progress” and an “Arkansas-centric approach” to health insurance reform in the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling last week in the King v. Burwell decision.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the federal health care laws provision to allow subsidies for state and federal health insurance exchanges.

Sen. David Sanders, R-Little Rock, and Cheryl Smith Gardner, the director of the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace, appeared on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, which airs Sundays at 9 a.m. on KATV Ch. 7, in central Arkansas.

Sanders said legislators have been waiting on the Supreme Court case to eliminate potential options the debate may have gone. Now, attention can turn to specific directions.

“So now, I think for me, and a lot of the lawmakers, we will begin focusing more on on what is in the best interest from a policy standpoint,” Sanders said. “As we move forward, the state of Arkansas has the maximum amount of flexibility to determine its own future and its own fate with regard to health care reform. And the exchange does, in fact, play a large role.”

Gardner said the Arkansas legislature has always practiced “prudent progress” in regards to its health exchange decisions.

“With the state-based exchange, that is the mechanism whereby states can be innovative with their health care reform solutions, and frankly, it’s the only mechanism whereby states can retain what has always been what’s under the state’s purview: insurance regulation,” she said.

Sanders said the upcoming 1332 waiver – which gives states tremendous flexibility, if approved by the federal government – could be the “ultimate customization” for state health insurance reform.

Both guests agreed that lawmakers and the governor would push for an “Arkansas-centric approach” as a task force studies potential recommendations for reform by the end of this year.

The Health Insurance Marketplace Legislative Oversight Committee is scheduled to meet Monday at 10 a.m. in the Big Mac building on the state capitol campus.