Our View: Governor making smart moves

Despite the fact the liberal Democrats and bureaucratic critics in Little Rock are trying their best to make it sound as if Gov. Asa Hutchinson is simply being too cruel on the thousands of Arkansans taking advantage of the state’s version of Obamacare, it appears many, if not most, of his accountability plans are being well received by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell. That, according to Hutchinson, is some of the good news coming from the governor’s recent meeting in Washington over his proposed changes to Arkansas’ Private Option which currently provides free or subsidized health care to nearly 250,000 recipients. The governor has proposed renaming the program Arkansas Works and adding elements that he says will encourage work and personal responsibility. The four main elements are referring able-bodied, unemployed beneficiaries to work or work training; requiring people who earn 100 to 135 percent of the federal poverty level to pay small premiums; enhancing program integrity; and encouraging employer-based insurance. The good news, despite what the naysayers may be saying, is that none of those proposed changes been rejected by the federal government. Hutchinson did say that final approval will depend upon hammering out the details which should be done well in advance of Arkansas lawmakers being presented the final and approved changes in time for their upcoming regular legislative session. There have been a number of lawmakers ready to completely trash the Private Option but, it was Hutchinson who has put together a special committee that has recommended these changes in order to save enough tax dollars to absorb the cost of when the federal government slowly backs away from subsidizing the program beginning next year. Hutchinson realizes that some of the ideas presented have their limitations including a provision for locking out people from coverage if they fail to pay required premiums. The governor knew, as well as members of his Health Reform Legislative Task Force, chances of that getting approval from the ultra-left wing Obama administration would be impossible. During a special news conference on the subject, Hutchinson was very clear when he said, “The challenge is, the punitive side is not something this administration is interested in. So we have to look at incentives, and we don’t want to overload a program with incentives.” Before the critics begin their bashing campaign as to its eventual success or failure let us make it clear neither the governor nor members of his task force expected to gain approval to everything they have suggested. But, let us also make it clear, we doubt very seriously that the state’s Private Option, as we know it today, will be non-existent in its present form before too long. And that, you can go to the bank on.Our V

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