Posted by Anna Strong on January 15th 2014
Access to health coverage for tens of thousands of Arkansans is at risk. Last year, lawmakers came up with a bipartisan plan to extend access to Medicaid by using federal dollars to purchase private health coverage for low-income Arkansans. This approach, called the Private Option, was supported overwhelmingly by lawmakers (by more than a ¾ majority). Because of that decision, almost 80,000 Arkansans now have access to quality, affordable coverage that they didn’t have before.
Sadly, that coverage could end June 30 if lawmakers fail to stick by their vote. In the upcoming fiscal session, lawmakers will have to vote to appropriate the state money needed to fund the Private Option. If the vote fails, those nearly 80,000 people will see their coverage, and the sense of security it provides them and their families, slip away.
At Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF), we talk to people all across the state who now have affordable health coverage because of the Private Option. To them, their newfound ability to visit a doctor, get a screening, or access preventive care isn’t a political game, and it doesn’t have anything to do with what’s going on in Washington, D.C. To them, finally having the opportunity to afford quality coverage means peace of mind. It means they can take better care of themselves and their families. It allows them to go to work. And it allows them to live without fear of someday going bankrupt because of unforeseen medical emergencies or medical bills.
Today, AACF is launching the first in a series of personal stories from Arkansans who are benefiting from the Private Option. The theme of these videos is “Keep AR Coverage.” It’s an effort to tell the stories of real Arkansans who will ultimately lose coverage if the legislature fails to vote to fund the Private Option.
Our first video features Jennifer Trader from Springdale. She is one of 3,336 people in Washington County who has enrolled in a Private Option plan.
“To me [insurance] was just way too much,” Trader says. “So I haven’t been taking the medication I needed to take. Being able to have insurance will make a huge difference. There’s a lot of us out there who work really hard and can’t afford it no matter how much we try. The Private Option is helping my family.”
If you have your own personal story, we encourage you to fill out our short survey. If you’d like to write to your representatives and tell them how important the Private Option is for Arkansas, you can do that here.
AACF will release a series of videos leading up to the beginning of the fiscal session. For more information, visit www.aradvocates.org/KeepARCoverage. You can follow the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #KeepARCoverage.