LITTLE ROCK, AR -- The state's largest insurance program, known as Medicaid, is at a tipping point -- on the brink of collapse -- if there's no additional money to fund it.
"We need to find a solution to get people the care they need it, when they need it, and at a cost we can afford," Arkansas Surgeon General Joe Thompson said.
Thompson said that solution is expanding medicare by accepting money from the Affordable Care Act. He said the federal program would make payments for those who can't afford to and save the state nearly $80 million a year.
"We do have difficult decisions on entitlements, on defense spending as well as foreign government support that our Congress is going to have to wrestle with, but we have to take care of the poorest of our citizens," Thompson said.
Thompson said rural hospitals, who see many of those patients who can't afford to pay, will benefit from the health care law. Paul Cunningham with the Arkansas Hospital Association said it will boost the smaller hospitals' bottom lines.
"It increases revenues, less of a burden on hospitals in terms of having to write off so large part of those bills,." Cunningham said.
Many states are not planning to accept any of the funds offered by the health care law, which has sometimes turned into a political issue.
Thompson said Arkansas lawmakers don't see politics, but people.
"Arkansas has always pulled together and made the right thing happen for our citizens," Thompson said.