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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The legislature at work on private option

Posted By on Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Efforts to re-enact the private option version of Medicaid expansion under Obamacare are continuing in the Arkansas legislature.

Today's action, judging by dispatches from David Ramsey, includes House amendments to make the legislation more palatable to opponents who lost the battle in 2013. Why the losers have such bargaining power is beyond me. The steps are relatively small in terms of overall costs, but they are intended to be part of the eventual strangulation of the program.

Led by Rep. Nate Bell, opponents of Medicaid expansion want to prohibit spending on outreach programs for people to participate in expanded health coverage under the private option or Affordable Care Act. (Hey, what an idea! Maybe if nobody knows about it, nobody will sign up, thus saving tax money!)

Also speeding to approval is a demand that the state stop having Medicaid pay for non-emergency transportation, or at least some of it now covered under a rule exception the state will eventually seek. Pennywise and pound foolish. Many of the desperately poor without transportation, particularly in rural areas, won't get primary care they need but eventually will be sick enough for more expensive ambulance transportation and hospital care. It just won't do in Arkansas to pass legislation without taking something out of the hide of poor people. I'm surprised there's no bill to require drug testing before you're allowed admission to an ambulance.

Naturally there's a push for the much beloved, by Republicans, health savings accounts. Poor people don't have enough to buy groceries, much less put aside in a health savings account. These accounts have worked abysmally in Medicare and in private market. But the private market must be served! More dressing for the window.

I am at least happy that the Darr Deadwood Four don't have to worry about their paychecks, health insurance and paid holidays. The Republicans in the legislature have THEIR backs.

Do the givebacks to the red-hots like Bell guarantee passage of the legislation. Or will Lucy jerk the football away?

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