by Max Brantley
Benji Hardy of the Legislative Digest reports that a new federally funded contract with a local ad/PR firm to publicize new insurance options was held up by Sen. Jonathan Dismang, who said he wanted more information on how the $5.1 million would be spent. He said concerns about the education program had been raised in other states. He also took exception to a website tool ("estimator") for figuring costs of insurance under the new health exchanges. No firm figures from Arkansas are available yet, so federal estimates are used. This is misleading, Dismang said. Or, to be technical, an estimate.
David Rainwater, CEO of Mangan Holcomb Partners, emphasized the urgency of the ACA’s timetable. In a recent survey of uninsured Arkansans, he said, only 24% said they knew about the upcoming Oct. 1st date for beginning enrollment. (One question this raises that the committee did not ask: why does only a quarter of the target population know about the Marketplace at this point? In other words, have outreach efforts been executed properly thus far? Also, just to be clear, people are not required to own insurance by Oct. 1st. The mandate does not begin until the end of the calendar year, and even then there will be exceptions to that requirement.)
Noted: If information is constricted and enrollment is slowed, coverage won't be maximized. Nor will expenditures. This is just coincidental, I suppose.