How to make sure your loved ones get the best medical care they deserve
LITTLE ROCK, Ark.
(AP) The state of Arkansas’ health care system is struggling to maintain the health of its poorest residents as the state struggles to fill more than a million jobs.
But with the economy struggling, a new study by the state’s chief financial officer says Arkansas can afford to pay the bills.
Asa Hutchinson announced this week that the state is making up for lost federal funding by using a combination of cash and property taxes to pay for a new, state-owned healthcare system.
The plan was funded with $1.9 billion from the federal government and another $2.4 billion from a state-mandated Medicaid expansion that was expanded under the Affordable Care Act.
“I want to thank the states of Louisiana, Louisiana and Mississippi for their leadership in this effort to deliver affordable, quality healthcare to Arkansas and our citizens,” Hutchinson said at a news conference.
The plan also includes a $50 million investment in a new hospital and medical centers, $4 million for a nursing home and $3 million to expand an outpatient clinic.
The state already has about $2 billion in cash and assets in the state treasury, and the new plan is expected to add about $1 billion more in the next two years, Hutchinson said.
The new system would provide health insurance for all residents, with some insurance offered through the federal Medicaid expansion or a local state plan.
It would also have about 15,000 beds, a health care delivery system, a medical office and an emergency room.
It’s one of the first state-run health systems to have state funds to operate and it’s expected to become the largest such program in the country, said Robert T. Mottola, the state health director.
The system is also expected to create jobs, but it will be more expensive than what would be provided under a traditional health insurance plan.
Mottola said the new system will be run by the Arkansas Medical Association, which is part of the Republican Party.
He said the state could eventually raise taxes to fund it but the plan is not likely to be implemented for another year.
The report, by the medical association, was released in the midst of a bitter debate about a federal law that allows Medicaid recipients to purchase health insurance through state exchanges.
Republican lawmakers and governors have repeatedly expressed concerns that the law would undermine state control over health care and the state-led expansion has become a national flashpoint in the health care debate.
Some Republicans in the Senate, including Rep. Dan McDaniel of Pella, have said that the federal health law should not be changed or repealed.
“We are going to continue to try to get this right,” Mottolasaid.
“We are not going to change a law we can’t afford to live under.
This is a long-term issue.”