Statement from Asa Hutchinson on Private Option

There are clear and distinct differences in healthcare policy in this gubernatorial race. My opponent, longtime Democratic Congressman Mike Ross worked with Nancy Pelosi and President Obama to draft health care legislation that eventually turned into Obamacare. This law has caused health insurance premiums for Arkansans to skyrocket and has denied Arkansans the opportunity “to keep their health insurance if they like it.”  Mike Ross was also an early advocate of the pure expansion of Medicaid in Arkansas, which I oppose.

I have consistently opposed Obamacare from day one and I will continue to do so. It is a terrible job killing policy that is fatally flawed. Ultimately, the only way to end this job killer is for Congress to repeal the law. The Arkansas legislature was handed a terrible program and had to choose how to deal with Obamacare. There was no good option for the state and there never will be unless Obamacare is repealed and replaced.

I have consistently said that the issue of the Private Option should have been handled in a special session because Obamacare is changing on almost a daily basis. Ultimately, I would have designed the health care plan for Arkansas differently. But as Governor, I will inherit the decisions the Governor and General Assembly made in the fiscal session.

Now that the legislature has approved funding for a more limited Private Option, which does not include marketing and promotional funds, we are left with a smaller pilot program that will reduce the financial risks to the State of Arkansas.  As someone who has always opposed expansion of government and the train-wreck known as the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), I am frustrated with the limited options that are left to each state.

I view the Private Option as a pilot project; a pilot project that can be ended if needed. As Governor, I will assess the benefit of the Private Option and measure the long-term costs to the state taxpayers. As Governor, I will weigh the cost and benefits of the program and determine whether the program should be terminated or continued. Furthermore, a key criterion for me is I want incentives for people to work, and not incentives for people not to work. If the Private Option is not accomplishing its objectives and it costs too much, then we need to end it and I will be the first one to call for its termination.

I know further reform in health care is needed, and I look forward to working with our health care professionals and the legislature to determine what changes will be needed in the future. The reforms I will advocate will reflect those needed changes while balancing the need for a stable budget.