Monday, November 5, 2012

Republicans ready to bring DC gridlock to Arkansas

Posted By on Mon, Nov 5, 2012 at 6:41 AM

DO IT OUR WAY OR ELSE: Sen. Michael Lamoureux.
  • DO IT OUR WAY OR ELSE: Sen. Michael Lamoureux.
I wish the Democrat-Gazette wasn't behind a pay wall because Charlie Frago's article about Medicaid expansion provides some important insight into Republican governance in Arkansas. It's Washington-style my-way-or-the-highway politics. The Democrats might as well stay home if Republicans hold a majority.

Sen. Michael Lamoureux, who'll lead the Senate under a GOP majority, gives every indication of a willingness to impose a blockade of things he doesn't like even without a majority. The Arkansas Constitution bestows that power on a minority because of the 75 percent vote requirement for most spending legislation.

The Republicans want co-pays from poor working people who get added to Medicaid. Even Democrats are looking kindly at the idea of sticking impoverished working people who've contributed toward medical care through payroll taxes. It may be a political necessity. It proved so in ARKids.

Co-pays will, of course, discourage access to the system by poor people. Which will mean some illnesses will go untreated. Which will ultimately mean more costs for somebody — more severe illness, death, unpaid emergency medical bills and all the rest. Republicans simply intend to fight universal health care, an accepted part of society in rest of the western world, to the dying breaths of the uncovered poor.

But it's worse than co-pays.

Lamoureux and the Republicans won't let go of drug-testing. The Florida experience has already proved that it's another red herring. Medical professionals are more likely to be drug abusers than poor folks seeking health care.

Lamoureux throws out the old "root out fraud and abuse" line. I'll believe he's serious when he demonstrates that he understands the vast majority of Medicaid fraud is not by poor sick people but by drug companies, insurance companies, hospitals and doctors gaming or directly cheating the system. Trust me. That's not who the teabaggers see as the enemy. It's the moochers they're after, the 47 percent.

Lamoureux wants greater eligibility verification. What? Photo ID? Of course people should be income-eligible. Is there evidence of many people with sufficient income lining up for Medicaid? I'd be interested to see it. (There is some evidence of middle class people trying to hide granny's assets to qualify for nursing home coverage.)

Finally, the money quote:

A “small amount” of expansion might be do-able if “all our reforms are implemented,” said Lamoureux, referring to the July letter. “But it wouldn’t be 250,000. If they’re not interested in compromise, then we’re not either. They’re not going to be telling us what the expansion is going to be.”

Republican compromise: Do it the way we say. Accept all our conditions or go to hell. We'll decide what federal law provides.

What you have here is part of the Southern massive resistance movement to President Obama's health care law. Much of it is non-negotiable, despite what Lamoureux wants to suggest. The state can take it — and help a quarter of a million people — or, for the most part, it need not. The Arkansas legislature doesn't write the federal health care law. Texas here we come. It's going to be a meaner place, this so-called Land of Opportunity. The feds have said states can participate or not — or drop out entirely if money runs short in the future — but they've said so far that incremental participation is not part of the states' options.

PS — If Lamoureux and the rest of Koch Inc. block Medicaid expansion, it will cut off the federal money that could otherwise correct a $350 million gap in state support for the existing Medicaid program. Think schools, prisons, colleges, along with throwing poor people out of nursing homes and hospitals.

PPS — We are not alone in this lunacy. From Forbes:

The nation’s state and local public hospitals may face an increase of more than $50 billion in the costs of uncompensated care by 2019 if states decide against participating in an expansion of the Medicaid health insurance program for the poor.

The giant price tag to safety net hospitals for patients who are unable to pay their medical bills comes from a new analysis from the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems. The association said the study puts “a dollar figure” on the additional cost of uncompensated care following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

By the way, Sen. Lamoureux: When you cut this spending to UAMS and Children's Hospital and other community hospitals, it's not just sick people who suffer. It's all those jobs that will be lost with no money coming in. Thanks, sir. May I have another?

Tags: , , , ,


Speaking of...

Comments (30)

Showing 1-30 of 30

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-30 of 30

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • The arrival of autumn open line

    Here's the open line. Harvest Fest still happening in Hillcrest. Hog Roast tomorrow in North Little Rock in perfect weather.
    • Oct 22, 2016
  • Nasty women rise up against The Deplorable Donald

    It had to happen. Donald Trump's debate interjection that Hillary Clinton was a "nasty woman" has become a battle cry among women; a Twitter meme; a Facebook favorite, and, naturally, a marketing opportunity for T-shirt, button and bumper sticker makers.
    • Oct 22, 2016
  • Formal opposition emerges to Issue 3, the corporate welfare amendment

    It became apparent this morning that at least some money would be spent in opposition to Issue 3, a massive corporate welfare proposal to allow the state to pledge unlimited tax money to private projects and to allow local governments to also give money to private business and chamber of commerce lobbyists, a practice that has been ruled unconstitutional currently.
    • Oct 22, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Mary Steenburgen adds voice against gay discrimination law

    Mary Steenburgen, the Arkansas native actress, has added her voice to those opposing HB 1228, the bill aimed at preserving legal discrimination against gay people under the pretext of religious freedom. It would create untold other complications for all sorts of government activities to give people a religious excuse to avoid the law.
    • Mar 3, 2015
  • War. What is it good for? Tom Cotton has an idea

    Twenty-four hours after meddling in President Obama's talks with Iran, hawkish Sen. Tom Cotton scheduled an off-the-record meeting with defense contractors, who'd be happy to supply goods for U.S. armed incursions in the Middle East.
    • Mar 9, 2015
  • Not everyone is in Tom Cotton fan club

    Conservative New York newspaper labels Tom Cotton and others "traitors" for injecting themselves into presidential diplomacy with Iran.
    • Mar 10, 2015

Most Shared

Most Recent Comments



© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation