Arkansas is the Best State in America

August 8, 2014

Surveys show that most Americans disapprove of the Affordable Care Act and its mandate requiring adults to purchase health insurance. But despite the opposition, we’re complying with the law: The number of uninsured Americans is dropping precipitously.

No state has made progress faster than Arkansas. A new Gallup survey released this past week shows that the percentage of the state’s population without insurance dropped nearly in half, down from 22.5 percent in 2013 to 12.4 percent today.

Of course, a big part of Arkansas’ success stems from the fact that the state had so much ground to make up. Before the Affordable Care Act, the state’s Medicaid program covered fewer low-income residents than that of almost any other state; the program was meant to cover only children, the disabled and those whose medical bills sapped their cash reserves.

Expanding Medicaid, therefore, made more additional Arkansans eligible than similar expansion did in other states, said MaryBeth Musumeci, associate director of the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. Before the expansion, only Texas had more uninsured residents.

The state used various means to identify all those newly eligible enrollees. Authorities contacted low-income residents already receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, who would also qualify for Medicaid under the expansion, and helped them opt in to health coverage. And the state ran television advertising during football games and other high-profile events to encourage enrollees.

Read the full story here.

Reid Wilson covers national politics and Congress for The Washington Post. He is the author of Read In, The Post’s morning tip sheet on politics.
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