Healthcare for Arkansan families is under attack.
Healthcare coverage is a basic human right. All Arkansans, regardless of health, age, gender, employment status, or financial situation, should have access to healthcare coverage.
Access to primary care physicians and pharmacies in rural Arkansas is inadequate. Even when services are available, the excessive costs put care out of the reach of many. The Arkansas Delta has only 58 primary care physicians per 100,000 people. That is less than half of the United States average, which stands at 127 primary care physicians per 100,000 people.
Inadequate care means that Arkansans are more likely to forego or delay medical care, less likely to fill needed prescriptions, and less likely to receive preventative services.
Despite these inadequacies, this administration has rolled back several key provisions of the Affordable Care Act and Congress has repealed the ACA's penalty for failing to maintain insurance coverage. Arkansans have seen state politicians attempting to roll back Medicaid coverage and impose work requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries. Federal legislators have repeatedly sought to end the Medicaid expansion and eliminate ACA tax credits.
These actions will drive premiums even higher in 2019 and may even risk a total collapse of the market. They put Arkansan children, seniors, and families at great risk.
We must enact legislation that will provide comprehensive, universal health care in a cost-effective way. This means:
Protecting and expanding Medicare and Medicaid coverage.
Improving healthcare affordability by lowering premiums and prescription costs.
Stabilizing insurance markets by introducing a reinsurance fund to help insurers pay for the sickest patients, or by renewing cost-sharing reduction subsidies.
Increasing coverage, particularly in under-served counties, by increasing funding for open enrollment programs.
Creating a public option so that all Arkansans are guaranteed affordable coverage.
Medical care is not only a moral imperative, but it is also a job engine for many communities. For example, the health sector in Baxter County, a retirement destination for many Arkansans, accounts for one in four jobs in the area. We must do more to protect and grow the medical services industry in the Natural State.