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Arkansas Medicaid Expansion Program Faces Funding Hurdles

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ARKANSAS MEDICAID- When Medicaid Expansion became effective in 2014 under the Obama administration, most states accepted some form of the federal program to provide healthcare coverage to their lower-income working-poor; but most southern “red states” refused to sign on. However Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas accepted the Medicaid Expansion.

But things are changing as the AR Home Medicaid program in Arkansas faces an uncertain future especially with financial strains rural hospitals are facing. During the pandemic, hospitals had to forgo elective medical surgical procedures which are the “bread and butter” for most rural hospitals. Federal Pandemic funds are drying up and yet staffing costs are high.

Funding Medicaid expansion will be another major health care funding hurdle for the 94th Arkansas General Assembly to clear. Appearing on the program “Capitol View”, Senator Missy Irvin, Republican from Mountain View, chair of the Senate Public Health Committee, says the states Medicaid expansion is both a health care and state economic issue.

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Senator Missy Irvin, Republican from Mountain View, chair of the Senate Public Health Committee says the states Medicaid expansion is both a health care and state economic issue.

When you start to make changes, you really have to take in totality what that is going to do to the entire state economy and particular to the healthcare economy”, Irvin explained. “I would argue that a lot of what we have done with AR Home and different programs has really stabilized that healthcare economy that was in place to serve people in rural Arkansas during the pandemic. And those rural hospitals and critical access hospitals, even the mid-sized hospitals are still reeling and trying to catch up from Covid.”

Former Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson was a strong supporter of Medicaid Expansion, but his successor Governor Sara Huckabee Sanders has been focusing more on education and criminal justice reform and hasn’t taken a firm position on the healthcare insurance program.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.