(Courtesy of Michael Hibblen, KUAR Public Radio.)
A new study shows Arkansas outpaced the rest of the United States in reducing the percentage of uninsured residents during the first half of 2014.
The Gallup report released Tuesday says the rate of uninsured adults fell from 22.5 percent in 2013 to 12.4 percent in Arkansas by the middle of this year.
"It’s nice for Arkansas to be number one in the nation in something really, really good," said Gov. Mike Beebe, reacting to the report.
He says it shows that the Arkansas Legislature, working in a bipartisan way to create the "private option," has benefited the state. The program uses federal Medicaid dollars to buy private insurance for lower-income Arkansans as part of the Affordable Care Act.
"It makes Arkansas’s quality of life better across the board, it helps businesses because folks aren’t as sick, certainly it helps hospitals and doctors when you can pay for care and not have it uncompensated," Beebe said in an interview with KUAR News. It also benefits those who already had insurance, he said, "because there’s less of a tendency to have to increase the charges on the rest of us to make up for uncompensated care."
It took a three-fourths vote of the legislature to pass the private option last year and again to keep it funded during this year's fiscal session.
The poll is based on a nationwide survey of 88,678 respondents who were asked "Do you have health insurance coverage?"