You may have heard that the Arkansas House Insurance and Commerce Committee will be voting at 9 a.m. tomorrow (March 25, 2011) on House Bill 2138, which will allow Arkansas to set up its own health insurance exchange under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

We hope you will join Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield in supporting this bill and maintaining state control of a health benefit exchange in Arkansas. This bill is a positive move for Arkansas for the following reasons:

It retains local control. Regardless of whether one likes or dislikes the federal health care reform law, it is, for now, the law of the land. A key provision requires the establishment of health benefit exchanges in each state; in states that do not set up an exchange themselves, the federal government will do it for them. Rather than allowing the federal government to establish an exchange in Arkansas, this bill establishes the Arkansas Health Benefit Exchange, which will be planned, implemented, and run by Arkansans, not by Washington. 

There is no state revenue impact. The bill provides that the operation of the exchange will be funded by an assessment on the business written by companies through the exchange. The planning and implementation phases will be paid for by money from federal grants, most of which has already been received or awarded.

It allows for an alternate marketplace. The exchange will be a second marketplace, and will supplement – not replace – the existing private health insurance market. An exchange established by Washington may not allow the private market to exist.

It contains a bail-out clause. In the event the federal law is overruled, found unconstitutional, repealed, or otherwise invalidated, this bill provides that it and the exchange it creates also will be invalidated.

Please contact the members of the House Insurance and Commerce Committee TODAY and tell them to vote FOR House Bill 2138 and the Arkansas Health Benefit Exchange. You may call the House session number at 501-682-6211, or send an e-mail:

  • Rep. Fred Allen: eat0@eau0eav0eaw0
  • Rep. Allen Kerr: eat1@eau1eav1eaw1
  • Rep. Jonathan Barnett: eat2@eau2eav2eaw2
  • Rep. Mark Biviano: eat3@eau3eav3eaw3
  • Rep. Les “Skip” Carnine: eat4@eau4eav4eaw4
  • Rep. John Catlett: eat5@eau5eav5eaw5
  • Rep. Barry Hyde: eat6@eau6eav6eaw6
  • Rep. Keith Ingram: eat7@eau7eav7eaw7
  • Rep. Bryan King: eat8@eau8eav8eaw8
  • Rep. Buddy Lovell: eat9@eau9eav9eaw9
  • Rep. Reginald Murdock: eat10@eau10eav10eaw10
  • Rep. Bobby Pierce: eat11@eau11eav11eaw11
  • Rep. Terry Rice: eat12@eau12eav12eaw12
  • Rep. Jeff Wardlaw: eat13@eau13eav13eaw13
  • Rep. Bruce Westerman: eat14@eau14eav14eaw14
  • Rep Hank Wilkins: eat15@eau15eav15eaw15
  • Rep. Jon Woods: eat16@eau16eav16eaw16
  • Rep. James Word: eat17@eau17eav17eaw17
  • Rep. Tommy Wren: eat18@eau18eav18eaw18
  • Rep. Marshall Wright: eat19@eau19eav19eaw19