Arkansas: Replacing Medicaid Expansion with Obamacare's Exchanges Could Require 'No Additional Federal Costs At All'
In late February, Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe (D.) announced that he had struck a deal with the Obama administration to implement Obamacare’s expansion of health insurance coverage using the law’s subsidized private-sector insurance exchanges, instead of using the 1965-vintage Medicaid program. If implemented, this deal would result in far better health coverage for the poor. But the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that such coverage would cost federal taxpayers 50 percent more than Medicaid would. Yesterday, the Arkansas Department of Human Services released its own fiscal estimate of exchange expansion. Contrary to CBO, the state estimates that expanding the exchanges “would add less than 15% to federal health-care costs in Arkansas,” adding that “in some realistic scenarios, there could be no additional federal costs at all.” Arkansas’ analysis, if correct, could transform the shape and scope of Obamacare’s coverage expansion.