2018 MIDTERM ELECTION

Time: D H M S

Arkansas: Number of people Tom Cotton wants to run over 10,000 higher than I thought.

Hat Tip To: 
David Ramsey

The other day I noted that Republican Congressman Tom Cotton of Arkansas, currently in a heated battle with U.S. Senator Mark Pryor to take Pryor's seat, is proposing not only stripping healthcare from the 200,000 people in his state who have gained healthcare this year thanks to the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expanion provision (the "private option" in AR) as well as 40,000 people who are paying for policies via the ACA exchange, but is going even further by pushing for half of the pre-Obamacare Medicaid/CHIP budget to be slashed.

This would effectively result in up to 20% of the state's entire population losing their healthcare coverage...every one of whom is either poor or barely middle-class at best.

Well, that number just went up a bit more:

We often mention the 211,611 who have gained coverage under the private option. They would lose their health insurance if Tom Cotton enacted his policy agenda, even though for political reasons Cotton absolutely refuses to admit it or respond to questions about what would happen to them. Cotton would also dramatically cut funding for the old Medicaid and ARKids programs, which would hurt the state's neediest citizens: the elderly in nursing homes, low-income children, the disable, and extremely poor parents.

...I asked the Arkansas Insurance Department for an update on how many consumers were covered on the Marketplace (by which I meant the non-PO Marketplace; confusing matters, private option beneficiaries are also covered by Marketplace plans). In any insurance market, there will be "churn" — people moving on or off plans. To take the obvious example, someone covered by the Marketplace who gets a new job that offers insurance might transition off the Obamacare plan and onto employer-sponsored insurance; someone who loses their job might transition onto on Obamacare plan (folks who have a major life event like losing a job can sign up even after open enrollment is over). 

Here's the latest on non-PO Marketplace enrollment:

38,210 are now covered by Marketplace plans.

That includes: 36582 are current with their payments; 801 have enrolled and their first payment is now due; 827 are in a "grace period" (a three-month grace period to consumers late on a payment, only available if they have made at least one payment).

The rounded numbers I used the other day were 200K "Medicaid Private Option" plus "around 40,000" in exchange QHPs (not via the MPO), or 240,000 even.

However, the exact numbers provided today add up to 249,821...nearly 10,000 more. I suppose you could quibble about the 827 in "grace period" status, but even if you knock those off that's still 9,000 more than I had it at a few days ago.

Add those to the 361,000 people on regular Medicaid/CHIP who would lose their coverage and that's 611,000 people Cotton who would be utterly devastated by their own Representative (or Senator if, God help us, he wins next month). 

Arkansas has roughly 2.96 million residents. That's nearly 21% of the entire state.

As an aside, this is also the first time I've seen any specific breakout of how many people are in the 3-month "grace period" in a given state. There's been a lot of speculation by pundits like Megan McArdle and Bob Laszewski that the "official" enrollment numbers are still misleading because a huge number of people might be in this "grace period", and I haven't said much about it because, frankly, I didn't have much to say. Maybe they're correct; maybe there really has been a huge drop-off since the HHS announced the 7.3 million figure as of mid-August.

However, in Arkansas at least, it appears that this isn't the case at all. 827 out of 38,210 is only 2.1% of the total. Of course, the currently-enrolled number is also down about 1,800 overall from the peak of 40,000 paid (about a 5% drop). I have no way of knowing how many of those 1,800 were in the "grace period" before being dropped for non-payment, as opposed to those who deliberately chose to cancel their policies due to other life changes (Medicare, ESI, etc). In some ways it's a moot point, really. The larger point is that at the moment only 2.1% of Arkansas total enrollees fall into this category, which sounds pretty reasonable to me.