A plan originally developed by Arkansas to use Medicaid dollars to enroll some low-income residents in private coverage through an insurance exchange is now being explored by four more states, including Ohio (“Care about Obamacare? Then you should really care about Arkansas,” Washington Post Wonk Blog, March 18, 2013).
If those four states (Maine, Louisiana and Florida are the others) signed onto the Medicaid expansion through the Arkansas option, the Urban Institute estimates that 2.4 million people would gain health insurance coverage.
Although Ohio officials have indicated that they have held talks with federal officials over a plan that would allow flexibility on how certain low-income residents gained coverage, no details of a potential compromise plan have been made public.
Also this week, Arkansas officials released projections that their “private option” plan would be less than 15 percent more expensive than expanding eligibility to Medicaid. The potential high cost of substituting Medicaid coverage for private coverage on the exchange has been a point of contention for some critics, especially in light of Congressional Budget Office projections that an exchange option would cost about 50 percent more than coverage through Medicaid (Source: “Ark. DHS releases new estimates for plan to allow Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance,” Associated Press via The (Columbus, Ind.) Republic, March 18, 2013).