Our View: Unhealthy Arkansas among worst in the nation

If it weren’t so sad and pathetic we’d almost have to laugh at how the state bureaucrats make a feeble attempt at putting a spin on how Arkansas improved its score for overall health, moving up in rank among all the states in the nation from No. 49 to a mere No. 48. Oh, dang, let’s celebrate. In fact, let’s have a party folks. Here we are spending countless millions of our tax dollars into a flawed Department of Human Services to prop up scores of free subsidies that these bureaucrats label as “entitlements,” and yet we’re still scraping the bottom of the national list. What a pathetic situation, and yet these numbnuts in Little Rock seem to find the results of this latest report from America’s Health Ranking report as a reason to rejoice. Here’s how the deal works. On health coverage, the report considered the average percentage of a state’s residents who lacked insurance in 2013, before Arkansas expanded its government subsidized Medicaid program. As measured by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, Arkansas’ percentage of uninsured residents fell from an average of 16.2 percent in 2012-13 to 13.9 percent in 2013-4. The report ranked the state No. 35 in the percentage of residents with insurance, up from No. 36 in last year’s report. In 2014, 11.8 percent of Arkansans lacked insurance, for reasons fully unexplained in light of the fact everyone, rich, poor and otherwise, can apply for an receive either free or subsidized health care coverage under Arkansas’ so-called Private Option, a form of the controversial Obamacare scam. Naturally, we would have expected the political appointee as surgeon general would come out and help blow up the celebratory balloons and attribute the government subsidized Private Option as to the reason for the slightly improved ranking. As we all know, or should know by now, under this Private Option, the state uses federal Medicaid funds to buy insurance for low-income Arkansans. Bear in mind, this could all change if lawmakers cozy up to some of the recommendations that are being made on changes to the Private Option that will take effect in 2017 if they approve them. One of the recommendations includes recipients be required to pay some portion of the cost of coverage which critics say will result in many Arkansans simply bailing out and wind up with no insurance whatsoever. This report also placed Arkansas No. 1 in adult obesity, with 35.9 percent of its adult residents considered obese in 2014. Sadly to say, in last year’s report, the state had the third-highest rate, behind Mississippi and West Virginia. As we are all aware, the state’s obesity rate should be of great concern because this issue increases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and other ailments. And, in the final assessment many of these individuals will be identified as those taking advantage of this free health care program. It would seem only logical to us that issues such as these should be addressed in the form of some mandatory requirement that in order to receive free government subsidized health care that recepients be required to participate in some aggressive weight loss program. Let us also say that the state had the third-highest adult smoking rate in 2013 and 2014, another reason to implement tough anti-smoking programs for those taking advantage of the state’s free health care. These are serious health issues that simply can be taken lightly by bureaucrats making a big deal over marginal or little improvement over previous years ranking.

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