Legislation is expected to be filed in Little Rock for a program called ARHOME which stands for Arkansas Health & Opportunity for Me.”
Actually, it is the same old program that gets renamed every few years because of the negative baggage it carries. ARHOME is just one of many names used by the state to try to rebrand Arkansas’ adoption of Obamacare Medicaid Expansion.
Arkansas originally passed Obamacare Medicaid Expansion in 2013 by a close vote and it was at a time when under the introductory rate, Arkansas would pay nothing. That is no longer the case. Both your Arkansas taxes and federal taxes are used to fund the program.
The entitlements under this program are not directed at the elderly, disabled, or even children. Instead, it is based on income and the primary group covered by the entitlements are able bodied working age adults who don’t work.
Lets look at the carousel of names used to confuse you:
- Medicaid Expansion. The federal name for the program is Medicaid Expansion. Many refer to it as Obamacare Medicaid Expansion because it is part of Obamacare. The program was not impose on states. The states had to decide whether to participate.
- Health Care Independence Act of 2013. Supporters of Medicaid Expansion in Arkansas didn’t want to call it that because the name was toxic. The first name used in Arkansas for Obamacare Medicaid Expansion was the Health Care Independence Act of 2013. We never figured out how the word “independence” fit a government entitlement.
- Private Option. Health Care Independence wasn’t catchy enough or deceptive enough, so soon after the legislation was introduced in 2013, the sponsors started using the nickname. They called it Private Option. There was nothing private about the private option, other than instead of administration of the government entitlements being done by a state agency it would be done by insurance companies at a higher cost with a guaranteed profit for the insurance companies.For a long time, supporters of the Private Option tried to deny it was Obamacare Medicaid Expansion. When people quit believing them, it was time to come up with a new name.
- Arkansas Works. Because the initial legislation had an expiration date, supporters of the program needed to extend or re-adopt the program. In re-adopting the program in 2016, Governor Asa Hutchinson decided to rebrand the program as “Arkansas Works.” There was absolutely nothing about “work” in the legislation but the word “work” just sounded appealing.It wasn’t until 2017 that work requirements were added to the program. Well, they called it work requirements but doing some work during was just one of several options. It really didn’t matter because the so-called work requirements were shut down almost before it began. It was argued, requiring work (or one of the other options) did not fit with the scheme of the Medicaid program. During the Trump administration Arkansas gave some effort to get a waiver to allow the work requirements, but the Biden administration hasn’t been receptive.Now that people understand Arkansas Works is just Obamacare Medicaid Expansion, a new name is being proposed. Every time the program’s name is changed they also make a few tweaks to try to make it sound brand new.
- Arkansas Health & Opportunity for Me. The legislature is being asked to pass Obamacare Medicaid Expansion a third time under another new name, Arkansas Health & Opportunity for Me.Perhaps the “Me” in the name should refer to the insurance companies who are making a profit from the program – health & opportunity for insurance companies.According to Talk Business & Politics two of the lead sponsors will be Senator Missy Irvin (R-Mountain View) and Representative Michelle Gray (R-Melbourne).
- An Honest Title? If the title of legislation had to describe what it really does, the closest name we can come up with is “MEDICAID FOR ABLE BODIED WORKING AGE ADULTS WHO DON’T WORK” because that is the primary group who receive the health entitlements under the program.
Don’t worry if you can’t remember the new name, Arkansas Health & Opportunity for Me, because they will change the name again once people figure out what it and realize Arkansas’ version of Obamacare Medicaid Expansion is more costly because Arkansas is giving insurance companies a cut of the action.