Policy Documents

The Empty Promises of Arkansas’ Medicaid Private Option

Jonathan Ingram, Foundation for Government Accountability –
January 17, 2014

The Arkansas Private Option, passed in 2013, is being held up by its in-state supporters as a market-oriented alternative to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. As a result, many legislators in other states who may be opposed to Medicaid expansion are considering replicating Arkansas’ so-called Private Option in their own states.

Those legislators should be cautious. The Private Option is not the free-market alternative to Medicaid expansion its architects in the Arkansas Legislature hoped it would be. In fact, the Private Option is nothing more than Medicaid expansion by another name, and its passage was the result of a series of empty promises that, until now, have gone unchecked.

This report examines those empty promises—using supporters’ direct quotes from sources including media interviews, floor speeches and posts on social media—and rebuts them point by point.