Like other states, Arkansas faces important decisions about implementing the law, including expanding Medicaid and the new health insurance exchange. A study conducted by the RAND Corporation helps answer some questions about the economic impact of these decisions.
Dr. Joe Thompson, director of the Arkansas Center of Health Improvement and Arkansas Surgeon General is with us today to talk about findings in this report.
Why did the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement commission the RAND report?
There's no question that assisting individuals in gaining financial access to health care will have a positive impact on the health of Arkansans.
- Study shows that as many as 2,300 lives will be saved each year due to increased insurance coverage.
- How requirements and options of the federal law will impact the state's economy is more complex and requires comprehensive analysis.
So, how would if affect Arkansas if we were to fully implement the Affordable Care Act?
- 400,000 more Arkansans insured
- $550M annual increase in our gross domestic product
- Creation of 6,200 jobs
I noticed that the report also breaks down the economic impact to the county level. Why is there a difference at the county level?
- The number of uninsured people is much higher in some of our rural counties and those are the counties who will benefit the most.
- By the same token, Arkansas as a state will benefit more than many of our sister states.
- Extending Medicaid to those who qualify under the Affordable Care Act will also help our state catch up to what other states already offer their citizens.