On March 4th, just before the legislative session was set to close, members of the Arkansas Legislature voted to continue funding the State’s Private Option for Healthcare Coverage by a 76-24 vote – just one vote more than the three-fourths needed to approve this funding. The importance of continuing the Private Option in Arkansas cannot be overstated, it serves as a model for other states that may seek an alternative to Medicaid expansion.
We supported funding the private option because we know that improving access to healthcare, especially preventive services, reduces death and disability due to heart disease and stroke. The Private Option allows over 100,000 Arkansans who previously went without health care coverage to access preventative services for heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases.
These individuals will now be able to receive healthcare services such as smoking cessation, high blood pressure and cholesterol screenings, and obesity interventions that will improve their quality of life, and in some cases save their lives.
Throughout this tough fight the American Heart Association worked with coalition partners, volunteers and advocates to seek support from key legislators who were either on the fence or not supportive.
Volunteers such as Deborah Roush, Tammy Quick and Jennifer Ferguson personally made calls to legislators who ended up switching their votes and supporting the Private Option. Thanks to all YTC advocates for taking action on alerts!
Governor Mike Beebe signed the Private Option Bill into law on Friday March 7th.