The state's largest hospital is greenlighting Medicaid expansion.
"UAMS is very supportive of the expansion of Medicaid as enabled by the Affordable Care Act," said Chancellor Dan Rahn.
Rahn testified before the House Public Health Committee Tuesday. He said UAMS loses $66 million a year treating uninsured patients, and expanding Medicaid to 250,000 Arkansans would cut those losses by $28 million.
"We believe it's very important both from an economic standpoint and an equity and health standpoint to expand Medicaid," Rahn said.
Committee Chair John Burris wasn't surprised by Rahn's push for expansion.
"Most state officials and hospitals are openly in support of expansion," Burris sid. "We haven't talked a lot about the quarter million people that are going to have private insurance of some form or another and the impact that has on providers and hospitals. I think the number needs to be quantified and it needs to be part of the discussion."
With the federal government recently announcing it was making rule changes that would give states more say over the amount of Medicaid co-pays, Burris says he wants to hear the fed's final offer before voting on the issue.
"We don't want to pay sticker price on a car before we really know what we're buying," Burris said. "That's really the way most members are feeling right now."
Moreover, Burris isn't sure that Medicaid expansion is in best interest of the three million people living in Arkansas.
"I think hospitals have a very legitimate case for how Medicaid expansion helps their bottom line," Burris said. "But as a legislator I have to look at every factor in this equation, too, and I think that's what we do as we go through this process."