Monday, April 15, 2013

UPDATE: The House defeats Medicaid expansion appropriation

Posted By on Mon, Apr 15, 2013 at 1:19 PM

LAST-MINUTE APPEAL: Supporters of the Medicaid expansion spending bill lined the stairway to the House in advance of the vote.
  • LAST-MINUTE APPEAL: Supporters of the Medicaid expansion spending bill lined the stairway to the House in advance of the vote.

I'm led to expect a test vote — maybe THE vote — will be held early in today's House session at 1:30 p.m. on the appropriation bill to pay for expanding Medicaid-financed health coverage in Arkansas.

The bill requires 75 votes in the House for passage. Vote counters say the target is in reach, but ....

The bill was the first order of business, called for consideration at 1:41 p.m. Rep. Duncan Baird introduced the bill, as the House's co-chair of Joint Budget. The $5 billion piece of legislation covers the Department of Human Services. It provides spending authority, not the funding itself.

No debate.

UPDATE: The vote: 69-28. CORRECTION FROM PREVIOUS: Two didn't vote — Anne Clemmer and Stephanie Malone — and Mary Lou Slinkard voted present. The bill failed, failing six votes short of the required number. All Democrats voted for the legislation. All the 28 nay votes were Republicans, meaning 20 Republicans voted aye.

Today's vote represented a gain of six votes for the measure from the 63 that voted for the enabling legislation, which required only a majority vote. Gov. Mike Beebe said there'd be another vote tomorrow on the same appropriation. If it's defeated, the expansion money will be deleted from the bill, a general budget bill will be passed and the legislature will go home with little more of substance accomplished. But guns and fetuses will have been served, if not the needs of the working poor.

The House adjourned for the day. Pressure on the six to 11 said to be potential yes votes will be immense. Vote counters had put the vote at 72 before the vote, with perhaps eight still potential votes. Afterward, you could get the 72 with the three present or not voting representatives. But are there any others? It's shameful that the measure may fall because of personal opposition from Rep. Terry Rice and some of his closest allies, notably including Rep. Jonathan Barnett, who's been happy to shake down Arkansas people for money to put in the pockets of highway contractors, but who's unwilling to help working poor with medical care. He's one vote perhaps Gov. Mike Beebe could reach, given Beebe's — and other Democrats' — for Barnett's pet highway projects. Rice had expected to be House speaker, but was upended by a surprise, Democrat-backed candidacy from Davy Carter. Carter and one of his key Republican supporters, John Burris, have championed the "private option" Medicaid solution.

David Ramsey was at the Capitol. A few notes:

• As Max noted above, Gov. Mike Beebe said that tax cuts would be a no-go without the extra room in the budget created by expansion and suggested that the session would essentially be over if the bill fails again tomorrow — "wrap up Revenue Stabilization and go home." He also hammered home the impact of employer mandate penalties that the "private option" would avoid. "People voting against this will be voting for the biggest tax increase on small businesses in the history of Arkansas," he said. "If you don't pass this private option, it's estimated that $35 million a year in tax increases are going to be imposed on small businesses. We can avoid that...it's crazy...that's why you've gotten so many of the business organizations, so many of the very conservative anti-Obamacare Republicans are for this. Voting against this bill is voting for a huge tax increase on Arkansas businesses."

Rep. Bruce Westerman re-hashed his spiel from this morning, including trotting out his phony cover bill. He complained about the immediate adjournment after the private option: "There was a whole docket full of bills on the calendar. A lot of people have got better things to do than sit over here to vote on one bill." I asked about his political future since everyone at the Capitol assumes that he is positioning himself for a run for Congress if U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton takes a stab at a Senate seat. Westerman dodged by saying Cotton was still running as an incumbent as far as he knew. "There has been talk of that, but again my focus is on this session," he said.

Rep. Kim Hammer said that he didn't think the weekend was a "realistic time-frame in order to get feedback from constituents." He said that he hasn't made up his mind on how to vote tomorrow but said his vote today signaled that he was leaning against. He will be hosting a town-hall meeting at Saline Memorial Hospital tonight in Benton, along with Rep. Ann Clemmer. Local DHS staff will be in attendance, as well as anti-"private option" shill Avik Roy — a former Mitt Romney policy advisor — who is being flown in from New York by Americans for Prosperity.

• Clemmer, out of the chamber for the vote today, said she wanted to make sure constituents understood the costs of doing nothing. "This extra time gives us a little bit of chance to bring the public on board," she said, though she was unwilling to say which way she was leaning.

• The Joint Budget committee was set to meet today but cancelled. Appears that everything is on pause until the healthcare question is settled.

Here are the 28 no voters, including from western Little Rock, Rep. Allen Kerr and former LR School Superintendent Les Carnine, now a representative from Rogers:

Alexander
Ballinger
Barnett
Bell
Carnine
Cozart
Deffenbaugh
Dotson
C. Douglas
Eubanks
Farrer
Fite
Gossage
Hammer
Harris
Hobbs
Hopper
Hutchison
Jean
Kerr
Linck
D. Meeks
Miller
Payton
Rice
Scott
Westerman
Womack

Tags: , ,

Favorite

Speaking of Medicaid Expansion, Arkansas Politics

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

  • Arkansas Supreme Court denies rehearing in death penalty challenge, but delays mandate

    The Arkansas Supreme Court today refused to rehear the case denying Death Row inmates information about drugs used by the state in the lethal injection process.
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Welspun layoffs: Another example of corporate welfare folly

    Layoffs at the Welspun pipe plant in Little Rock are a reminder of the folly of corporate welfare and the inability of Arkansas to separate itself from global economic forces. See the Fayetteville shale. And keep a watchful eye on that Sun Paper pulp mill proposed near Arkadelphia.
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Hamburg bank manager gets 21 months for theft

    Melinda Gwin, 49, of Hamburg has been sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and ordered to repay $210,875 stolen from the First National Bank of Crossett. She was sentenced in El Dorado federal court, according to a Justice Department news release.
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • A tribute to Asa Hutchinson for remarks on torture

    A tribute to Asa Hutchinson's lonely position in the Republican Party in confirming what a recent Senate report said about the use of torture against U.S. enemies.
    • Dec 21, 2014
  • Opinions split within GOP on "law and order" issues. Where will Asa stand?

    The New York Times reports that some Republicans are trending away from the lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key approach to criminal justice embraced by the party's old guard, in part out of a recognition that minority votes matter now more than ever. Asa Hutchinson wants to reach out to black voters — what better place to start?
    • Dec 24, 2014
  • Casino gambling continues to grow in Arkansas

    Casino gambling continues to grow at Southland and Oaklawn racinos in West Memphis and Hot Springs, but the dog racing situation is another story.
    • Jan 19, 2015

Most Shared

  • Tackling autism, child by child

    An Arkansas Children's Hospital doctor is testing a new drug that targets one of a host of ailments the highly individual disorder can cause.
  • 1957 all over again

    Last week, the State Board of Education voted to ignore federal courts and allow school district transfers that will encourage segregation.
  • Death penalty lives

    Barely clinging to its flagging life, the death penalty got a merciful reprieve last month from the unlikeliest quarter, the Arkansas Supreme Court.
  • Drinking culture

    Here we go again. At the rate these campus sexual abuse sagas are making news, it's reasonable to ask what college administrators can possibly be thinking about.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

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