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Arkansas governor Mike Beebe looks on during a Martin Luther King Jr. service in Little Rock, Arkansas in this January 15, 2013 Governor's office handout photo obtained by Reuters March 6, 2013.   Arkansas was set to enact the nation's most restrictive la
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe

What happens when you provide an affordable option for health coverage to a lot of lower-income people? You don't have as many uninsured people being forced to use their only option—the emergency room. That's pretty obvious, but we're still in a political world where the obvious good of a thing like more health coverage for more people has to be spelled out. So here it is, in Arkansas.
Preliminary data from a survey of acute care hospitals in Arkansas suggests a dramatic decline in the number of uninsured patients hospitals are seeing since the enactment of the private option, Surgeon General Joe Thompson and Bo Ryall, president of the Arkansas Hospital Association, testified before a legislative subcommittee today. [...]

Here are the three key statewide findings, comparing the first quarter of 2014 against the first quarter of 2013 […]:

* The total number of emergency department visits declined by 2 percent.
* Of those who did visit the emergency department, the number of uninsured patients was reduced by 24 percent.
* For people who required hospitalization, the number of uninsured patients was reduced by 30 percent.

That means, Surgeon General Thompson says, is that the state is "going in the right direction to improve the fiscal stability and well-being of our hospitals," not to mention the health and stability of the people who now have access to regular health care. Ryall added that the private option for Medicaid adopted by the state is saving hospitals: "Ryall noted rural hospital closings in Georgia and Alabama. 'We don't want to see that happen in Arkansas,' he said. 'We thank you as legislators for passing the private option. We think it's helping your constituents and helping your local hospitals.'" One hospital CEO backed that up in his testimony: "The difference between us being in the red and us being in the black is the private option," said Ron Peterson, CEO of Baxter Regional Medical Center.

That's not just an economic plus for the hospital, it's a boon for the local economy—in many rural areas the hospital and the schools are the biggest employers, and the Medicaid expansion doesn't just allow the hospital to continue to operate, it allows it to flourish, potentially creating even more jobs. All of which will make Republicans stick their fingers in their ears and sing "la-la-la-la."

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Fri May 16, 2014 at 11:03 AM PDT.

Also republished by Obamacare Saves Lives and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (39+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Fri May 16, 2014 at 11:03:22 AM PDT

  •  Hospitals save lives, relieve distress (6+ / 0-)

    That's the key thing. If the hospitals are working in a more predictable, more sustainable financial environment, they can continue to give good health care and improve that standard over time.

    Jobs? Well, if the whole hospital (magically) employed no-one it would still be worthwhile. So that's a side argument, not the main issue.

    This is not a sig-line.

    by Joffan on Fri May 16, 2014 at 11:12:09 AM PDT

    •  In a business and government sense (5+ / 0-)

      Hospitals are more valuable than that. They ensure the productivity of the workforce and government. The ill are unproductive and hence, a drain upon society. The well are not, save if they are tied up in caring for an ill family member.
      Hospitals minimize illnesses, either treating them to a cure or making the disease (often) manageable enough to ensure resumption of productivity.

      Now, let's look at the times before the ACA.
      The uninsured typically did not have a family physician and used the local ED for a family physician. That is a costly process, as ED's are not designed for that purpose, they're designed for medical emergencies. This resulted in higher costs by far and lengthy waiting times, as those most ill and requiring immediate treatment were moved forward in the line by standard triage techniques. We wouldn't want Johnny's dislocated finger to be treated with the same priority as grandpa having a heart attack!
      Meanwhile, those using the ED as their family physician typically were unable to afford the phenomenal bills, so they ended up either defaulting on them or taking an extremely long time in paying the bill off.
      So, many non-profit hospitals were running in the red. Indeed, in my non-pool, non-medicaid expansion state, one major hospital (actually, a collection of community hospitals and one major hospital) is on the verge of bankruptcy and is laying off professional staff, number of patients be damned. Entire floors are closed, psych patients mixed in with trauma patients, etc.
      But, that is a good business model for a state or nation.
      Having hospitals close, that is.
      For, an unproductive, ill and dying populace is a good thing to some assholes.

  •  The Arkansas plan will probably die on June 30. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bfitzinAR

    It is increasingly unlikely that the Republicans who control the legislature will support a renewal of the program.  

    Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations. - George Orwell

    by Wayward Son on Fri May 16, 2014 at 11:16:28 AM PDT

    •  There are sane Rs in AR - they brought it (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      terrybuck, Sherri in TX, Yonit

      back 6 times until enough Rs joined the Dems and it passed.  They'll do it again if necessary.

      •  it's complicated by the private option cost (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bfitzinAR

        Because it turns out that privatizing medicaid is more expensive than public medicaid, and Arkansas is on the hook for the extra expense.

      •  Special election lost one Aye. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bfitzinAR

        And another Aye has already reversed course.  The insane appropriations bill requirement for passage is a huge hurdle, and losing steps in the run-up is a very bad sign.

        Guess we'll see.  

        Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations. - George Orwell

        by Wayward Son on Fri May 16, 2014 at 12:09:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  True but, not holding my breath or anything, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          terrybuck, Yonit

          but there's the possibility that we could pick up another Dem along the way.  Obamacare is playing well in the state for all the TPs say otherwise.  AR is too poor a state to not have benefited from getting people insured.

          •  This is a key point (0+ / 0-)

            Even though many new insured people are getting that insurance through taxpayer dollars, the cost is far less for the state as a whole than having uninsured people getting care that has the cost of that care passed on through increased treatment/hospital costs.  This increases the cost of health insurance for everyone, including the government, in the long run.  

    •  No it won't (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      terrybuck, JamieG from Md, Yonit

      It's already been funded for the coming year. The next legislative session is anyone's guess, as more Republicans keep getting elected, but many of them voted for reapproval this year.

      The biggest hurdle in this state is that funding bills take a three-fourths majority to pass. Still, there are enough Republicans who support the private option to keep it going, so far. The bet is that they won't vote to kick 200,000 Arkansans off health insurance in the future, but of course you can never count on conservatives to do the compassionate or intelligent thing.

  •  And yet last night at the Washington County (8+ / 0-)

    Quorum Court meeting I listened to the president of the BoD of Washington Regional Medical Center (WRMC) tell us that "Obamacare" was the driver behind WRMC being down a projected $8 million in revenue this year!  It tells you something of course that he's also the president of the Chamber of Commerce.  He did praise "the private option" as if that weren't part of "Obamacare" - and he admitted that we have fewer uninsured people showing up in the ER, but that apparently doesn't count.  He contends the reduction in Medicare fees, which of course "forced" BCBS to drop their fees to match Medicare, is just killing us.  Funny that we can afford to build a new OR and hire 2 of the only 50 endoneurologists in the US, among many other programs and improvements we're doing this year, stuff he was very proud even boasting of, with Obamacare driving us into the ground.  (I HATE RWNJ hypocrites!)

  •  That's only because people are dying of shame... (0+ / 0-)

    ...at being reduced to government serfs, before they can get to the hospital.  

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Fri May 16, 2014 at 11:32:42 AM PDT

  •  The worst part about the Cons ideological hatred (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LI Mike

    of Govt is that they refuse to accept even the math of Govt spending. When Govt spends, those dollars don't disappear, they are received as income by the private sector. Cash registers don't discriminate between Govt dollars and private bank dollars.

    Single payer would be absolutely great for business. Companies would be free of having to deal with the labyrinth that is the insurance industry, unpredictable and rapidly increasing rates.

    Single Payer pros:
    Easily affordable by the issuer of the Dollar, Congress
    Cover every single American
    Increased health metrics, life expectancy, worker productivity, global competitiveness, real incomes and thus consumer spending
    Decreases personal bankruptcies

    Cons:
    Fewer profits for insurance, pharmaceutical, and medical device manufacturers
    Acceptance of the fact that collectivism and Govt action is necessary to increase our shared standards of living.

    Its examples like this that make me believe that Con politicians (which represent to a large degree their constituencies) really are just immoral, evil people.

    "The Earth is my country and Science my religion" Christiaan Huygens. The gold standard ended on August 15, 1971, its time we start acting like it. If we can afford full employment killing Germans, we can afford full employment during peace-time.

    by Auburn Parks on Fri May 16, 2014 at 05:25:25 PM PDT

  •  I don't believe a word of it! (0+ / 0-)

    What propagandist nonsense!  With all of its problems, with all of its corruption, does anyone "truly" believe anything that comes from the Obama administration??  So a 2% drop in emergency visits is attributed to the ACA?  Give me a break!  2%????  That's barely a ripple and you're all applauding.....lol....too funny.  Having "insurance" could very well mean Medicaid which, as we all know, is welfare.  Obama is engulfed by scandal......and now the Veterans Administration scandal is about to blow up in his face!  "Government" doesn't work, people.......it simply means "settling".  Get wise!  

  •  Imagine that! ObamaCare prevents visits to the ER (0+ / 0-)

    by focusing on preventative care (doctor visits) instead of disaster care (emergency visits to the hospital). Hmmm ...if only there was a study or something to predict these things.

  •  Every issue, Republicans are wrong (0+ / 0-)

    Make health insurance more available, and hey presto! fewer people put off seeing a doctor until they have to go to the emergency room. Whodathunkit? Well, except for all those dirty fucking hippies, but nobody listens to them.

    And a higher minimum wage in Washington state and in the San Francisco area leads to greater job growth? Just like Nobel-winning economists predicted, and the exact opposite of what know-nothing ideologues said would happen.

    Republicans are raising being wrong to a near art form.

  •  Not an unexpected results. (0+ / 0-)

    All you have to do is go back a read a little bit on the History of Medicare in this Country to know that this would happen. When the Congress was fighting over the Medicare Bill, in the 60s,  the Right did a lot of yelling about it destroying the healthcare industry, the economy and being socialize medicine.  They claimed no doctor would take it, people would die and that the Senior it was meant for did not want it.  What happen was just the opposite, it became a cash infusion into a system that was struggling, it spurred and sustained the growth of the hospital system we have in this Country today and brought individual doctors a new flow of reliable paying patients to strengthen their practices. This is what I will say about the Conservative Right, they are very good at getting their messages heard, but clearly lack creativity in developing them.  I can comfortable predict that when the next step comes along towards implementing a single-payer health coverage system in this Country - you will be hearing the same exact claims we have this time and 50 years ago.  Some things never change.

    •  There ya go again; (0+ / 0-)

      stating facts. You know the goopers are incapable of understanding facts. The only thing they understand is what their 1% bosses tell them.

      No country can be both ignorant and free - Thomas Jefferson

      by fjb on Mon May 19, 2014 at 04:26:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The ACA/Obama Care (2+ / 0-)

    I have been saying since the Affordable Care Act was passed that the Medical System would become more prfitable under the ACA!  The Republicans do not want to believe this.  The hospitals and the doctors write off about 20 percent of all of their billings every year.  This means they paid no taxes on very high incomes.  By having the majority of people insured the medial system will start paying for itself and the government will no longer be on the hook.  This means that a) the doctors, hospitals, and the laboratories will now be paying taxes, b) the government will not be writting off all of the losses, c) Businesses will have fewer employees calling in sick.  This is a win/win for the nation as a whole.  The Republicans can not stand that the Democrats are succeeding where they have failed!

  •  This is simple to understand. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raspberryberet

    Every American has a right to expect quality health care.  Just as they deserve Justice and is provided a Public Defender if needed.  Or they can drive a car, and yes even vote.  
    This is true except my State of Florida.  Our Governor Scott has tried to purge voter registration of the poor and demographic who vote Democrat.  He also refused funding for Medicaid for the millions who need it.
    Crist will win in 2014, Scott goes back home when the mother ship takes him away to Alpha Century.

  •  Note the terminology used, though. (0+ / 0-)

    The Arkansas politicos NEVER refer to it as "Medicaid expansion" - they call it "the private option" - whatever THAT'S supposed to mean.

    It's kinda like how in Kentucky, everybody loves that new "Kynect" health care plan ... but many of them still HATE OBAMACARE!

    OF COURSE the New Right is wrong - but that doesn't make WRONG the new RIGHT!

    by mstaggerlee on Tue May 20, 2014 at 10:00:17 AM PDT

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