The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Arkansas Passes Health Care Funding: Congrats to Gov. Hutchinson & Legislature

Posted on February 09, 2015 at 02:33 PM

The Delta Grassroots Caucus commends Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) and the Arkansas legislature for re-authorizing funding for Arkansas’ health insurance plan, in which more than 223,000 newly eligible adults were approved for insurance coverage.

The Arkansas House of Representatives passed the measure by 82 to 16 following upon the Senate’s passage of the Arkansas plan, which is being considered as a role model for many other states.

Expanding health care for underserved areas will be among the key themes of our May 26-27, 2015 Delta conference in Little Rock. Schedule, registration fees, and group hotel information are below in this email after the summary of the Arkansas health insurance plan.

“The Delta Grassroots Caucus praises Gov. Hutchinson’s leadership on this vital issue, as well as so many legislators from both parties, including House Speaker Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia), Senate President Pro Tempore Jonathan Dismang, (R-Searcy), Sen. David Sanders (R-Little Rock), Rep. Mark McElroy (D-Tillar) and many others,” said Lee Powell, Caucus director.


  1. Benefits of Arkansas’ innovative health insurance program

  2. Schedule for the May 26-27, 2015 Delta conference at the Arkansas Capitol and Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Library

  3. Key issues for May 26-27 conference

  4. Registration fees for spring Delta conference

  5. Group hotel

Gov. Hutchinson requested the formation of a health care task force to review what improvements and reforms are needed, such as work responsibility requirements assuring that all people on the plan should either be working, in school or job training programs. The bill funds health care coverage through fiscal year 2016. A bill forming the task force passed by 80 to 16.

The Arkansas plan uses federal Medicaid dollars to purchase private health insurance for low-income Arkansans. The expansion of coverage was authorized by the Affordable Care Act and approved by the Arkansas legislature in 2013. It extends eligibility to adults with up to 138% of the poverty level of $16,105 for an individual or $32,913 for a family of four.

If the program is unchanged, Arkansas will pay for 5% of the costs starting in 2017, gradually increasing to 10% in 2020.

Many health care professionals and grassroots leaders from across the Delta as well as a generally similar effort in Alabama led by Gov. Robert Bentley endorse these constructive efforts to increase health insurance coverage.

Gov. Robert Bentley (R-Alabama) is working for a plan to increase health insurance coverage in Alabama: In emphasizing that we are making progress in the health care field across the region, we would like to quote Senator Greg Reed, Senate Majority Leader in Alabama who is a key supporter of Gov. Bentley’s reforms in that state, sent this statement to the Delta Caucus:

“My work on Medicaid reform in Alabama is focused on better quality care, more patient support and management and cost savings for the State. We are on point to accomplish these goals with our Regional Care Organizations (RCO) plan and I appreciate Governor Bentley’s support at each step on this path. We still have much to do but are on the right track to reform Alabama’s Medicaid program for the better.”

Bo Ryall, CEO and President of the Arkansas Hospital Association, said “”Governor Hutchinson has provided us with a plan to continue insuring more than 200,000 Arkansans and a pathway to studying the entire health care system. We support his vision.”

Rep. Mark McElroy, Delta Caucus Vice Chairman from southeast Arkansas, said “Arkansas is a national leader for our innovative health care plan, and Democratic and Repubican legislators have joined together to support Gov. Hutchinson’s leadership in improving health care in our state.”


The Arkansas program is providing health insurance for more than 200,000 lower income Arkansans who previously did not have any. Arkansas ranks first in the nation in reduction of uninsured people since this program went into operation–in the first six months of implementation, the number of uninsured Arkansans receiving inpatient services in hospitals dropped by 46.5%.

In that period, the number of uninsured patients receiving emergency room care declined by 35.5%. In that period, the Arkansas program reduced uncompensated care costs for uninsured patients for the state’s hospitals by $69 million as compared with the same period in 2013.

Health care professionals have emphasized that without the private option, Arkansas hospitals were facing more than $400 million in uncompensated care costs in 2014, but the private option is estimated to have cut that figure approximately by more than half.

The private option helps hospitals stay open. Starting in 2010, federal laws started going into force that will result in $2.5 billion in cuts to Medicare reimbursements to Arkansas hospitals over the next 10 years. The private option provides a way to offset a substantial amount of the losses from Medicare cuts.

States that did either expand Medicaid or develop their own state version of the private option saw many hospitals close. In Louisiana, where the state government is an especially adamant foe of anything having to do with the Affordable Care Act, health care costs have risen 18% over the same period when they have declined in Arkansas.

The federal funding for this program is a budgetary advantage of $89 million. If this is lost, the only way to make it up is through cuts in education or other essential state services. We would also be faced with the dilemma of how to come up with the lost revenue if the private option is abolished.

Hospitals are major employers in Arkansas, employing over 42,000 people with a payroll of approximately $5 billion. More hospital closures would be devastating for economy, whereas thriving hospitals are a significant economic engine


Opening session: Tuesday, May 26, 2015, 4 p.m. to 7:45 p.m., Arkansas State Capitol (the old Arkansas Supreme Court room)

Clinton Library session: Wednesday, May 27, 2015, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Library.

We plan to invite President Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton to do live presentations by Skype or audio connection, although of course if they are able to speak they will confirm much later in the process. We will be inviting Governor-Elect Asa Hutchinson, the Arkansas Congressional delegation, and distinguished grassroots leaders from all eight states from southern Illinois and Missouri, through western Kentucky and Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi down to New Orleans and eastward to the Alabama Black Belt.

3. Key issues will include

Women and children’s issues in the context of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation’s No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project for full participation of women and girls in the Delta and across the globe;

An in-depth dialogue about the full range of race relations and civil rights issues across our region in the aftermath of the Ferguson, Missouri controversy, including but not limited to police issues;

The health care plan in Arkansas and other initiatives to increase access to health insurance in Alabama, Kentucky and Illinois (other states may consider new health care policies as well);

Job creation, education and workforce development, which are always at the forefront in working toward a brighter future for our region;

Expanding trade for the region, such as the opportunity for opening up trade to Cuba in the light of changing relationships with that country, especially for rice, poultry and other agricultural products that our region produces in abundance;

Investments in transportation, housing, broadband expansion and other infrastructure improvements;

Promotion of Delta heritage tourism, including what will be the last chance to save the historic steamboat, the Delta Queen in 2015 by passing legislation to allow the riverboat to resume her historic travels on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The delays in passing this highly meritorious bill have been particularly damaging and 2015 will be the last chance to save the Delta Queen.

4. Registration Fees for May 26-27, 2015 Annual Delta Conference

Early registration fees are $125, which is $100 for conference registration fees and $25 for annual membership dues for 2015. Those who pay the annual membership dues for the year 2015 will receive a $25 discount for registering for our annual fall conference, which is held at different locations either in the Delta or in Washington, DC, depending on feedback we receive over the year as to the best location for that event.

Please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

The early registration fee level ends on April 25, 2015; late registration fees go up to $150 each after April 25 to provide an incentive to get the fees in on time.

Annual dues are a minimum of $25, paid once each calendar year, although for medium-sized or larger banks, chambers of commerce, colleges and universities, corporations, foundations or those who want to donate more, suggested contributions are $50 or $100.

We are steadily placing more emphasis on collecting annual membership dues and we greatly appreciated all our partners who paid annual membership dues in 2014. If you would like to pay for 2014 by sending a check by Dec. 31, 2014 please do so. The dues are paid once each calendar year and membership dues for the year 2015 begin on Jan. 1, 2015.

As we regularly note in the spirit of transparency, the Delta Grassroots Caucus, Inc. is incorporated as a regular corporation and not as a 501c3, because we occasionally take positions on public policy positions that in some quarters might be considered controversial, and while the majority of our activities are informational/educational, we also occasionally do some limited lobbying on initiatives for the general welfare of the region. 501c3 organizations have major restrictions on lobbying or engaging in activities that might be considered “politically controversial,” particularly pertaining to elections. The Delta Caucus places the highest priority on maximum freedom of expression.

All our budget comes from voluntary, private sector donations in the form of registration fees for the two regional conferences each spring and fall; annual membership dues once a year with a minimum requirement of $25, with the option of $50 or $100 for those who choose to give more; and a small number of highly valued sponsorships.


We have a group discount rate of $99.99 dollars for the nights of May 26-27, 2015 at the Holiday Inn Presidential near the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock.

Please call the Holiday Inn Presidential at 501-375-2100 and say you are with the Delta Caucus to get the lower group rate of $99.99, which is a very good rate for a high-quality hotel located near the Clinton Library and the River Market district, which has many fine restaurants and other attractions.

The deadline for getting the group rate is May 12.

Many people will only need to pay for one hotel night, because they check in Tuesday afternoon to make the opening at 4 p.m. at the State Capitol and the conference ends the next day at about 2:45 p.m. You can check out the next morning and store luggage at the hotel if necessary and pick it up in the afternoon after the conference ends.

We will need to go to the State Capitol in groups of taxis for those who are flying in and do not have cars. The opening session is an important substantive session with key speakers and is NOT a reception. It takes about 10 minutes to drive from the hotel to the Capitol and then another five minutes to go up to the old Supreme Court room.

For the Clinton Library session, the hotel has a shuttle that regularly runs there.

The Holiday Inn Presidential has a very good restaurant, Camp David, on the first floor, and is close to the many fine restaurants in the Little Rock River Market area.