Health exchange sees serious challenges in Arkansas for 2012

Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Jay BradfordInsurance Commissioner Jay Bradford, the lead insurance official in Arkansas, has said that he will “go down fighting” in support of the establishment of insurance exchanges within the state under the newly overhauled federal healthcare program.

It has started to look as though great – possibly insurmountable – odds are building against Bradford, but he has insisted that he has not given up on the chance to put the exchanges into place. He also indicated that he may begin a new push in February when the new fiscal season has started. The largest obstacles that stand in Bradford’s way is a heavy Republican opposition, a hesitant governor, and a high vote burden.

After having briefed the Legislature on his support for the exchange, Bradford said that he believes that it is now both a fitting and business-minded choice to “give us the authority to go forward with the exchange during the fiscal session, but the mathematics of that are pretty difficult.”

When Bradford referred to the mathematics, he was indicating the necessary two-thirds vote that would be required from both the House and the Senate just to get the ball rolling. This would not even be the start of the exchange, but only the beginning of its consideration, since it is not a budgetary issue. Moreover, as Governor Mike Beebe has already voiced his objections to considering the exchange within the current fiscal session, the goal is looking increasingly challenging to achieve.

Spokesperson for Governor Beebe, Matt DeCample, said that the governor believes that it is inappropriate for policy matters to be discussed during the fiscal session, as this became law in 2008.

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