This kind of got lost in the shuffle but I suppose it's worth noting that the House Democratic Caucus gave a strong endorsement to Medicaid expansion, or whatever we're calling it now, in a press conference at the Capitol yesterday. In addition to health care, they said they wanted to focus on education, jobs and government transparency. Would have been nice for them to articulate their agenda earlier than the halfway mark, but better late than never.
In more "awkward timing" news, the Arkansas Hospital Association released the results of a poll on Medicaid expansion yesterday, one day after the dramatic game-changer in the expansion debate. That said, though the mechanics are different, we're still talking about accepting federal money to give coverage to uninsured, low-income people. And the poll found that 65 percent of Arkansans are in favor. I've called around and confirmed the obvious: the AHA — as well as various hospital administrators I spoke with — remain strongly in support of expansion. Indeed, the new "private option" will likely be an even better deal for hospitals because of higher reimbursements from private insurers. A better question is whether public support will remain as strong once folks find out that the new approach likely costs more.
More details from the AHA poll:
When asked, “Have you recently seen, read, or heard anything about the Medicaid program in Arkansas?” 69% of respondents answered yes.
65% of Arkansans surveyed support expansion, including 53% of Arkansans who “definitely” support the expansion.
When asked about specific reasons to support or oppose the expansion, three reasons were of particular note among voters, testing between 70 and 90%.
• When asked about the threat of “many hospitals, especially in rural or less populated areas of the state, are in danger of closing.” 70% of respondents said they were more likely to support expansion.
• 70% of respondents said the potential job cuts at local hospitals made them more likely to support expansion.
• 90% of respondents agreed that “We have a moral obligation to take care of those in need” when asked.