Posted by Anna Strong on October 24th 2012
LITTLE ROCK - 80,000 Arkansas parents stand to benefit if the state chooses to extend Medicaid to those who now qualify under the new health care law, a new report from Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families says. That's good news for the state's children, who are more likely to get health coverage if their parents are also enrolled.
According to the report, "Strengthening Medicaid Helps Families," 143,000 parents in Arkansas are uninsured. Eighty thousand of them would qualify under the new Medicaid eligibility rules. Of those 80,000:
- 23 percent are currently eligible for Medicaid, they just have not enrolled
- 39 percent earn less than $11,755 per year for a family of four
- 58 percent of them work
- 70 percent are white
- 100 percent are parents whose children are eligible for ARKids First or Medicaid
"In terms of Medicaid eligibility in Arkansas right now, the bar is pretty low for parents who are not disabled or pregnant," says Anna Strong, health policy director for AACF. "If you have a family of four and you make over $3,000 a year, you can't qualify for Medicaid. That means parents who are working hard to support their families make too much to qualify, but too little to afford health coverage on their own. Extending Medicaid is a good deal for those working families. We can all agree that it's hard to be a good parent if you aren't healthy."
The list of institutions and organizations that support extending Medicaid continues to grow (The Arkansas Medical Society, Community Health Centers of Arkansas, the Arkansas State Board of Health, the Arkansas Hospital Association, the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, and the Arkansas Minority Health Commission are all supporters). New poll results released today by the University of Arkansas show support for extending Medicaid at 43 percent among the general public. Forty five percent of those polled favored keeping the program the same, and 12 percent were unsure. AACF Executive Director Rich Huddleston says those results are good news.
"Forty three percent is a good start," he says. "Once people find out the facts about how extending Medicaid will help the state - that it's good for our economy, good for our overall health and well-being, and good for our children and families - we're confident that support will grow."
The cost of extending Medicaid will be completely covered by the federal government for the first three years. After that the state will never pay more than 10 percent of the costs. According to the state's Medicaid director, strengthening Medicaid will actually save the state money.
"This is just the right thing to do," Strong says. "When you look at the benefit to Arkansas kids and their families, the decision isn't a hard one to make. ARKids First is a great example of how Medicaid works for Arkansas families. It has helped our state make tremendous progress in covering uninsured children. So, we're already ensuring children have access to the health care they need to thrive. We can now extend services to parents and other adults who qualify."