Statement Regarding The Private Option

Members & Friends:

One of the most discussed bills in the legislature this session tackled how Arkansas would address the Affordable Care Act of 2010. There were two opposing positions from a conservative standpoint.

To summarize very briefly, one option was to do nothing, or perhaps to nullify the ACA. In other instances where states have done this, the federal government has asserted that it will institute the provisions of the ACA through federally-managed Medicaid expansion without the state’s assistance or input.

The other option was to use the leverage afforded by the SCOTUS decision to put a solution in place that would divert those same Medicaid funds into a private individual insurance market based on free market principles, with the overall goal being to preserve as much individual freedom and state influence as possible, and to reduce overall healthcare costs for all Arkansas citizens. This route also shrinks Medicaid as it moves qualifying applicants from that program into the private market. However, to clarify potential confusion, the private option is ironically what many in opposition are referring to as de facto “Medicaid Expansion”.

As an organization, Conservative Arkansas considered whether to publicly announce support for a position. Given both the complexities of the issue and the division that seemed to be brewing among conservatives, the board did not reach a confident consensus specific to making a public endorsement. As individuals, of course, board members are still free to weigh in on any discussion with their personal thoughts, and likewise, our Executive Director advised our friends in the legislature that Conservative Arkansas would not hold their vote against them in either case. Especially in light of the exciting struggles and strides they made for conservatism, most notably the sanctity of life.

Despite our own deliberate attempts to keep the debate civil and productive, we believe that our membership should be mindful of those more inclined toward a destructive or contentious approach and that we rebuke any such sentiments or tone from either standpoint. We simply encourage our membership to continue to learn more about the assorted issues affecting our healthcare, and we look forward to providing genuinely constructive opportunities in that regard.

The Board of Conservative Arkansas

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