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Friday, March 15, 2013

Expand-o-meter holding steady

Posted by on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 1:17 PM

Today’s chances of passing expansion: 75%
Last week’s chances: 75%

See here for previous entries on the Expand-o-Meter

David Sanders image
  • Sen. David Sanders is still hoping for more flexibility

Though the "private option" is likely to cost the feds hundreds of millions more per year, it remains a much more popular idea among Republican lawmakers than traditional Medicaid expansion, which appeared dead in the water just a few weeks ago. The "private option" seems fishy and we still think the political optics of the executive power grab are awful, but all systems appear to be go from a legal perspective. DHS has sent a letter to the feds to make it official and once DHS releases their projections next week, the Ledge should have most of the details they need to proceed.

If there's a risk here, it's probably that The Four Privateers (Sen. David Sanders, Sen. Jonathan Dismang, Rep. John Burris, and Rep. Bruce Westerman) will try to squeeze even more demands out and could possibly walk away if they don't get what they want. They want more "flexibility" than the law currently allows and their urge to chip away at the existing program burns on. Hard to believe that Republicans would back out over details or subsidiary fights now that private insurance companies have a stake too, but you never know with true believers.

Meanwhile, the conservative wing of the General Assembly still has doubts about expansion even with the "private option." Anti-Obamacare lost causers are bringing in a big gun next week to fan the flames.

Still, the Four Privateers have a lot of conservative cred and should be able to sell the deal. They'll even argue that it won't cost more due to the magic of free markets, even though that's not so. Should be all sorts of twisting and turning since many of the arguments for the new deal are awfully similar to those for the old deal. We'll hear from Republicans about "cuts" that aren't really cuts in service. Maybe we'll even hear that the feds can afford to pay a little more because the ACA is revenue positive. Romneycare-style premium assistance, once a conservative idea, then socialism, now arrives full circle into the waiting arms of the Four Privateers.

And for the folks that are desperate for healthcare in this state, that's welcome news. The Expand-o-meter is holding course, remaining at 75 percent.

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Speaking of...

  • The private option and Republican primaries

    April 14, 2014
    The private option issue looms large in the Republican primary between incumbent state Sen. Missy Irvin and challenger Phil Grace, as well as several other GOP primaries throughout the state. The outcomes of these elections could have a major impact on the future of the private option, both in terms of impacting the tight margins to keep the necessary supermajority and signalling which way the political wind is blowing to Republican lawmakers on the fence about their vote in 2015. /more/
  • Millions of mentally ill Americans without health insurance in states that refused Medicaid expansion

    April 11, 2014
    Nearly 4 million Americans with serious mental health conditions have been left without health insurance by the decision of 24 states turn down federal money to expand Medicaid. Yet another example of the human costs of refusing to expand Medicaid, and reason to be thankful that the Arkansas legislature found a way forward to do right by its neediest citizens. /more/
  • The Where We Are with Health Care Expansion Edition

    April 11, 2014
    The state of Arkansas appealing a federal judge’s ruling striking down the 12-week abortion ban the legislature passed in 2012, the latest in the race for U.S. Senate between Tom Cotton and Mark Pryor, the latest silliness in the judicial eligibility controversy and where we are with health care expansion in Arkansas and nationally — all covered on this week's edition of the Week in Review Podcast. /more/
  • Number of uninsured is falling since enactment of Obamacare

    April 10, 2014
    Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius today announced that enrollment in the marketplaces created by Obamacare has hit 7.5 million, with 400,000 people so far taking advantage of the extension offered by the Obama administration to give folks more time to complete the process. Meanwhile, two pieces of data released this week suggest that when you add it all up, Obamacare is making progress toward one of the core goals of the law: reducing the number of Americans without health insurance. /more/
  • Johnny Key among three finalists for UA lobbying position

    April 10, 2014
    The three finalists for the new UA lobbying gig: Mac Campbell, a former aide to Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Sen. Johnny Key (R-Mountain Home), Randy Massanelli, state director for Sen. Mark Pryor. Many believe the wheels are greased for Key. /more/
  • In Nate Bell's hometown of Mena, people are getting covered by Obamacare

    April 10, 2014
    An article in the Mena Star explains that — despite the efforts of state Rep. Nate Bell, the Mena Republican who has made it his mission to stop outreach informing people of their options for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act — citizens in Mena are getting covered under Obamacare. /more/
  • If Tom Cotton gets his wish and repeals Obamacare, Eleanor Evans would lose her coverage

    April 9, 2014
    If Tom Cotton and other congressional Republicans got their way on the Affordable Care Act, the 150,000 (and counting) Arkansans who have gained coverage via the private option Medicaid expansion would lose their health insurance plans. That includes Eleanor Evans of Rogers, who works two part-time jobs and serves as the primary caregiver for her mother Eleanor Evans — who was once Tom Cotton's childhood minister in Dardanelle. /more/
  • Tom Cotton offers hot air to Hot Air

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    Tom Cotton gives an interview to the right-wing blog Hot Air, covering immigration, foreign policy, guns, and his own military service. Asked about how to kickstart a sluggish economy, Cotton responds with all Obamacare all the time. /more/
  • The human costs of refusing to expand Medicaid

    April 9, 2014
    Great story from the Orlando Weekly on Charlene Dill, a 32-year-old mother of three working three part-time jobs who died because of a documented heart condition. Dill fell into the "coverage gap" in Florida: She made a little too much to qualify for the state's existing Medicaid program but too little to qualify for subsidies on the newly formed health insurance exchange. When the state refused to expand Medicaid, that left a gap in coverage for low-income residents, and left Dill without options for health insurance. /more/
  • Attorney General Dustin McDaniel will ask Arkansas Supreme Court to reconsider Risperdal ruling

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    Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said today he will file a petition asking the Arkansas Supreme Court to reconsider its recent ruling reversing a judgment of more than $1 billion against Johnson & Johnson regarding the marketing of the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal. /more/
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