How the ACA has worked for Arkansas

On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the most significant reform to the United States health care system in a halfcentury. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA,” or “Obamacare”) aimed to increase access to health care coverage to more individuals across the United States. The law has increased the accessibility of health care for all Americans and improved health outcomes across the country, despite becoming one of the more politicized laws in American history.

Since it was passed, there have been numerous efforts to dismantle the ACA, including one currently pending (Texas v. Azar), but none have been successful to this point. The implementation of the ACA started a new era for the United States health care system. It began a discussion about who can access health coverage, as well as the quality and cost of both the coverage and services. The ACA has been especially beneficial for Arkansas, which used the ACA’s guidelines to expand its Medicaid program. Arkansas’s Medicaid expansion program, formerly known as the
“Private Option” (now referred to as “Arkansas Works”), led to many more Arkansans being able to access health coverage for the very first time. Having health coverage is especially important during a pandemic, like the United States is currently enduring with COVID-19.

As the ACA reaches its 10th year, the results are clear: Arkansans are better off as a result – through the improvements to the state’s health care system and to the health of Arkansas’s
children and families. In this report, we will explore:

• a brief history of the ACA and
Arkansas’s Medicaid Expansion

• ways the ACA continues to improve the
health of Arkansans

• how the ACA strengthens Arkansas’s
response to a pandemic like COVID-19

• the steps to protect our gains of the past
decade and strengthen those for the
future