Service Employees International Union Local 100, representing home health care workers nursing home workers and state employees, believes that all Arkansans deserve health insurance. The ARKids First program has successfully provided insurance to many of our members' children. However, people providing care to our state's elderly population have no access to health insurance, and many are deeply in debt as a result of necessary medical procedures. The tobacco settlement has provided Arkansas with a unique opportunity to live up to its responsibility to care for its citizens.
Local 100 proposes that part of the tobacco settlement funds be used to expand
Medicaid coverage to all people up to 200% of the poverty level. In addition
the settlement funds should also be used to expand Medicaid to cover the cost
of prescription drugs and personal care services to people over 65 making
up to 200% of the poverty level as well as extend the Medicaid limit from
20 days to 40 days. This amounts to an expansion of the ARKids First program
to all Arkansans up to age 65. The expansion to 200% is necessary because
when people at or slightly above the poverty level are forced to pay for their
own health insurance they are unable to pay for basic necessities.
Because the federal government gives Arkansas almost $3 for every $1 that the state spends on the Medicaid prograrr4 this is an incredible opportunity to bring money into the state. In addition the state should insure that health insurance is easy obtain by eliminating resource testing, allowing people to register for the program by mail as well as presume that people are eligible when they apply for the program. The AR Health First Proposal will most effectively carry out Arkansas' responsibility to its citizens.