Health Exchange Education Reaching Employers

Ar Local
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LITTLE ROCK, AR – Employers received information Thursday on changes coming to healthcare as a result of implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Bean Hamilton Corporate Benefits hosted the event for employers at the Clinton Library along with members of the Arkansas legislature and the Arkansas Insurance Department.

The Arkansas Insurance Department received approximately $24 million in federal grant money to use for education about the new health care exchanges, which uninsured Arkansans can begin signing up for October 1.

Cindy Crone with Arkansas Health Connector says $20 million of the money is going to hiring, training and certifying guides to help people sign up for coverage.

Another $2.5 million has been spent on television, radio, billboard, internet and social media advertising in an outreach effort for consumers on the new health exchange, Crone says.

“All Arkansans need to know about the new marketplace,” Crone says. “That would be business owners, individuals, churches, everyone needs to know.”

But state senator Jonathan Dismang, R-Beebe, says he has concerns about who provides the education and what the public outreach information includes.

Dismang says he would like to see more seminars similar to the one held Thursday.

“This is not something the insurance department paid to put on in anyway,” Dismang says. “This is a group of business owners, insurance companies and folks who wanted to get together and gain knowledge about the private option.”

Dismang was a key legislator in crafting the private option, which would use federal money available through the expansion of Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act, and place uninsured Arkansans on private health plans available on the new exchanges.

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services has not approved the plan submitted by Arkansas yet, but did assist the state in drafting the waiver for the program.

“I would like to steer away from any praise or propaganda in relation to the ACA,” Dismang says. “That’s not our intent, I don’t think dollars should be spent that way.”

Benefits for the health exchange begin January 1, 2014.

The sign up period runs through March 31, 2014.

For more information on the health exchange in Arkansas, click here.

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