Kaiser Health reports on the low payment rate of expanded Medicaid coverage recipients in states like Arkansas that requires a small premium payment for coverage.

In Arkansas, only about 20 percent of about 300,000 people covered by the private insurance are paying the $13 monthly premiums. The coverage isn’t canceled if they don’t pay. In 2019, the state will start taking the money from tax withholding.

Other states with the “skin-in-the-game” provision have had similar lack of success. It’s not exactly a surprise.


“Premiums are a financial barrier for low-income people, even if you are working,” said Rich Huddleston, executive director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. Even the state’s $13 monthly premium is burdensome. “Families have to make tough choices every day about whether they buy food, pay the electric bill, their rent, or pay premiums.”

Also from Kaiser comes news that polling shows the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare, if you prefer) is more popular than ever — 54 percent favorable. Most also don’t know Congress repealed the mandated fee for those who don’t have insurance. Most people aren’t affected by it, either too poor or covered at work.

The polling shows strong support for a work requirement for the expanded Medicaid program. Arkansas hopes to impose such a rule, the federal Medicaid agency willing. An answer on that may come during a visit by a federal official to Arkansas next week.


Problem: Many recipients are working, particularly among those who are able.

Another problem: Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is part of a Republican effort to kill the Affordable Care Act in court. That will make premiums, work requirements and insurance coverage for the working poor all moot issues.