LITTLE ROCK — A statewide association of physicians said Thursday it supports expanding Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act.
The Arkansas Medical Society said it opposes certain parts of the Affordable Care Act, but it "looked beyond" that opposition to consider a provision that proposes expansion of Medicaid to include people up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line.
The society’s board of trustees voted Wednesday to adopt a motion supporting the expansion. The group said it concluded that the expansion would be good for Arkansas patients, would help physicians meet their obligations to care for Arkansas’ poorest citizens and would be affordable.
"As one of the poorest states in America, Arkansas cannot afford to ignore the economic and health benefits that will come from participating in the Medicaid expansion," the group said in a news release. "If Arkansas elects not to participate, our tax dollars will be spent in those states that do choose to participate."
The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld the federal health care law but said the Medicaid expansion must be optional for the states. Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, has said he is inclined to support the expansion, but Republican legislators have expressed reservations.
The federal government would pay 100 percent of the cost of the expansion for the first three years, after which the state’s share would rise gradually to 10 percent. State officials say the expansion would add between 200,000 and 250,000 Arkansas to the Medicaid rolls.