(Original post published March 25, 2022)
In recent media interviews, ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson discussed the 12th anniversary of the signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the impact the federal health care law has had on Arkansans.
“We have over 300,000 working-age Arkansans now who have health insurance coverage that enables them to seek care and get care without financial barrier,” Thompson told KUAF. “We’ve also had a number of [benefits to] our healthcare system. Our hospitals are stronger now because we don’t have so many uninsured individuals.”
Arkansas provided the expanded coverage through an innovative program, made possible by the Affordable Care Act, that uses federal Medicaid money to buy private health insurance for low-income residents. Originally known as the “private option,” the program is now known as Arkansas Health and Opportunity for Me, or ARHOME.
The expanded coverage has been “critically important” for low-income Arkansans during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Thompson told KNWA.
Thompson also discussed provisions in the law that allow children to stay on their parents’ health insurance up to age 26 and prohibit insurers from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
“Before the Affordable Care Act, it was common for individuals who had a condition before they got insurance to be offered insurance but not to cover that condition,” Thompson told KUAR. “The Affordable Care Act took a step in making sure that pre-existing conditions were not an exclusion in insurance policies, both for the state and nationwide.”
For more information on the Affordable Care Act in Arkansas, see our timeline of key policy decisions and coverage impacts.