by Max Brantley
Today, Mike Beebe believes in health care for Arkansas. Us, too, though there are a few details lacking from this plan, which otherwise is intended to feel very good. (But, hey, one idea is to "expand school health clinics." That may sound like common sense eye wash, but those are code words to the Religious Right for all sorts of nasty stuff like birth control. So give Beebe a solid hand on that idea.)
Details on the jump.
UPDATE: GOP says there no substance to this. (Isn't that what we said?) You can get them on the jump, too.
BEEBE CAMPAIGN NEWS RELEASE
SPRINGDALE/FT. SMITH/CLARKSVILLE) - Mike Beebe announced a 12-point plan for affordable, accessible and quality health care as part of a Believe in Arkansas Health Care Tour today at events in Springdale, Ft. Smith and Clarksville.
"Too many Arkansans can't afford health insurance. Too many Arkansans don't have access to the care they need, and too many seniors don't have the quality choices they deserve," Beebe said. "I have a 12-point plan to improve the affordability, accessibility and quality of our health care. Government can't do everything, but it can help with the cost of health care.
Beebe told the story of a Hot Springs man and a Marion school nurse who were with him the day he filed his candidacy for governor, talking about their concerns for health care coverage and the nursing shortage in Arkansas. In the afternoon, Beebe held a health care forum at Economy Feed and Tack in Fort Smith, where he talked about owner Lee Webb's want to provide health care coverage for his employees but lacked the resources to do so.
At the day's events, Beebe detailed his 12-point plan.
Beebe's plan for expanding health care options for small businesses includes expanding the Arkansas Safety Net Program and potentially using the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit.
To address the cost of health care, Beebe proposed using reinsurance for insurers to stabilize premium costs for targeted groups and expanding coverage by Medicaid programs like ARKids First and the AR Senior program. Beebe said he plans to evaluate the current match rates to ensure that these programs are maximizing the use of federal dollars. Beebe said he will promote health literacy campaigns through existing infrastructures like the UAMS Center on Aging to increase health care literacy and save consumer dollars.
To improve health care accessibility, Beebe said he would expand school health clinics, create incentives for primary care professionals service in rural and urban centers, attack the nursing shortage in Arkansas and promote telemedicine programs through existing structures like the UAMS ANGELS program.
To attack the nursing shortage, Beebe said he would establish a permanent Nursing Workforce Center in Arkansas.
To improve the quality of care in Arkansas, Beebe said he would promote the use of standardized electronic medical records, implement the office of Inspector General to examine how state dollars are spent through Medicaid programs and utilize home and community-based care for seniors as an option to nursing home care.
Beebe spoke at health care forums at the Schmeiding Center in Springdale, Economy Feed and Tack in Fort Smith, and a health care meeting in Clarksville. He will host another health care forum at UAMS in Little Rock, Thursday. He said his health care policy would be published on his Web site, http://www.mikebeebe.com/, at the close of the week.
THE BEEBE PLAN: HEALTH CARE - Affordability, Accessibility, Quality
GOP NEWS RELEASE
Little Rock (June 28, 2006) – Clint Reed, Executive Director of the Republican Party of Arkansas, issued the following statement regarding Mike Beebe’s election year healthcare plan:
“Mike Beebe’s health insurance policy proposal is just another in a long line of substance-free policy proposals. Mike Beebe has had more ‘plans for a plan’ than any candidate in modern Arkansas history. This proposal has no substance -- then again, it’s not a surprise.
Mike Beebe should explain why he has flip-flopped on small business insurance options. Why did Mike Beebe just last month sign an Attorney General’s letter in opposition to federal legislation that would allow small business owners to band together to purchase group health insurance? The letter went to every United States Senator, asking them to oppose this legislation. If Mike Beebe wanted to truly help small business, he would have supported this legislation. Now, he says he wants to be supportive. Mike Beebe’s election year rhetoric does not add up.
In short, Mike Beebe’s substance-free plan does nothing more than spread the costs of healthcare instead of attempting to correct the problem of rising medical costs. Mr. Beebe’s proposal is a weak attempt to spread costs to keep premiums down. In the end, taxpayers and the insured will have to pay for it.”