Ten years ago this month, coverage began under Arkansas’s innovative Medicaid expansion program, initially known as the Arkansas Health Care Independence Program, or the “Private Option,” and today known as Arkansas Health and Opportunity for Me, or ARHOME. More than 718,000 Arkansans — nearly a fourth of the state’s population — have been enrolled in the program at some point since 2014. In a guest column for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson reflects on what the program has — and has not — accomplished in its first decade.
One benefit of the program, Thompson writes, has been a reduction in uncompensated care costs at Arkansas hospitals, which has helped the state avoid the rural hospital closures seen in surrounding states. Fifty-eight rural hospitals have permanently closed in states neighboring Arkansas since 2012, while no rural hospital in Arkansas has closed during that time without being reopened or replaced.
For a related discussion, see a guest column in Talk Business & Politics by ACHI Health Policy Director Craig Wilson, who considers how Arkansans have been impacted by the federal Affordable Care Act over the past 10 years.