A Gallup report released Tuesday shows Arkansas outpaced the rest of the country in reducing the rate of uninsured people during the first six months of 2014. Arkansas's rate fell from 22.5% at the end of 2013 to 12.4% midway through 2014. About 45% of Arkansans who did not have health coverage at the beginning of the year are now insured.
"When we worked with the Arkansas Legislature to pass the Private Option, we said it would make Arkansas a national leader for innovative health-care solutions, and this report proves that to be true," Governor Mike Beebe said, in a statement. "Even though not everyone was happy with the circumstances surrounding the Affordable Care Act in our state, we showed that we could find a bipartisan path to make the best of the situation and help our people."
It's a big step for the state, which ranked next to last among states for its uninsured rate in 2013. Only Texas had a higher percentage of uninsured.
Arkansas now ranks 22nd, tied with New Hampshire, in the nation for rate of residents with insurance.