Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The end game continues on Medicaid expansion

Posted By on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 6:25 AM

click to enlarge TARGETED AD: Facebook getting ads from something called the campaign for liberty.
  • TARGETED AD: Facebook getting ads from something called the campaign for liberty.
This morning, the situation looks dire on winning conventional House approval — 75 votes — of the Human Services appropriation bill that includes money for the private option expansion of Medicaid. Proponents haven't given up finding the two missing votes but a letter from 27 Republicans (of 51 in the House) demanding negotiations illustrates the problem, with the count at 73 of the needed 75.

Outside conservative interest groups are also targeting legislators with social media advertising to hold fast on "no" votes. The impasse gives rise, again, to a not-so-modest suggestion to attempt to upend the conventional process.

House Speaker Davy Carter could declare the bill passed with 73 votes. Or separate the private option appropriation — which is just a pass-through of federal money — and apply the widely held legal theory that an appropriation is NOT necessary for federal money. No vote is required at all to accept the federal money and spend it, according to this mainstream legal theory.

The letter from 27 Republicans asks that opponents and proponents sit down for a discussion of a "way forward." Some in this group clearly can't be trusted.

Rep. Nate Bell said his private option strangulation amendment — to prevent publicity about private option insurance as a first step toward a desired assassination of the program in 2015 — would gain votes for passage of the program this year. It gained only Nate Bell's vote. The minority opinion seems to be "let's you and I negotiate by the majority taking the minority position." The notion that some cosmetic further sop to the bitter-enders will produce a meaningful enactment of the program, based on recent history, seems unlikely.

Here's the letter from 27 Republicans.
I prefer the Dumas option. Call another vote and declare the measure passed on whatever majority it receives. I'm persuaded by the argument of Times columnist Ernie Dumas that a straight-up court test decided by the elected Supreme Court — not appointees as in one confusing precedent on the issue — would find a court amenable to saying the 75-vote rule does not apply to essential operations of government such as this. There's an even better alternative. Separate the private option money from the DHS budget — as the opponents desire — and then declare that "appropriation" passed by a majority vote. It is 100 percent federal money. A number of legal minds have said over many years that federal money such as this requires no state appropriation at all. Passage by this method would also end future debates over the program at least for three years, when a small state contribution will be required.

Undoubtedly, an old-fashioned 75-vote decision would be preferable at this moment. But stronger medicine might be needed to overcome an angry minority's blockade of the majority will. If the minority succeeds, legislative governance as we've known it in Arkansas could be at an end. And should be.

PS — Rep. Mary Lou Slinkard, one of the yes votes who turned into a no, said there was "absolutely" no deal between her and Secretary of State Mark Martin that influenced her change of heart. A spokesman for the office told me the same yesterday. She's his campaign chair. Rumors have been rampant that she would go to work for secretary of state's office after her term ends this year. I still don't have a definitive "no" to the question of whether future employment off Slinkard in the office has ever been discussed or remains a possibility.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

  • Governor wants a plan for Medicaid

    September 22, 2016
    The Human Services Department released this afternoon  a monthly update by Director Cindy Gillespie on people insured thanks to applications for Obamacare's Medicaid expansion — about 317,000. /more/
  • Rapert claims victory over Facebook; either way, he still doesn't get 1st Amendment

    September 20, 2016
    Sen. Jason Rapert sent me a Tweet early this morning claiming that Facebook had relented and reinstated some anti-Muslim Facebook posts that had been removed for violation of the private social media company's "community standards." True or not, he still doesn't get the U.S. Constitution. /more/
  • Obamacare: Good for Arkansas

    September 14, 2016
    The Obama administration has issued another of its reports on the positive benefits of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise familiarly known as Obamacare. Arkansas has been a big winner. /more/
  • Casino v. Casino: The fight on Issue 5

    September 14, 2016
    The latest debate on more casino gambling in Arkansas is more likely to be decided by public attitudes about gambling in general rather than some of the legal questions raised by opponents, casino operators themselves. /more/
  • Leslie Rutledge: Throw out the Clintons

    September 9, 2016
    Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is listed as author of this polemic on Independent Journal Review, a Republican-backed website, urging a vote for Donald Trump for president. /more/
  • Arkansas's new Medicaid expert's past as Obamacare foe

    September 4, 2016
    The news of Arkansas's decision to bring in Dennis Smith, a former top Medicaid official for George W. Bush, included mention of the controversy that marked his tenure as the Medicaid boss for Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker. The important part was not a connection to a sexual scandal, but policy. /more/
  • Obamacare works

    September 1, 2016
    If you read only the headlines you would think that Obamacare is on its last leg, a national train wreck even in Arkansas, where Republicans and Democrats preserved its biggest feature, assured medical care for the working poor. /more/
  • Dumas: Behind the Obamascare headlines

    August 30, 2016
    Ernest Dumas explains in his Arkansas times column this week how Obamacare's problems can be fixed; why it isn't going away, and, most pertinently, why it's more lucrative for Arkansas to continue to expand the coverage pool, not dream up ways to shrink it. /more/
  • A plan for Arkansas to get more out of the money it spends on corrections

    August 26, 2016
    Arkansas's prison population is among the fastest growing in the country. The state now spends more than half of a billion dollars on corrections, a 68 percent increase since 2004, and our prison population, which increased by 21 percent between 2012 and 2016, is expected to rise by another 19 percent between 2016 and 2023 to 21,345. Those were the facts and projections Justice Center, a project of the national nonprofit Council of State Governments, reminded people of yesterday before presenting criminal justice reform proposals. /more/
  • Arkansas criminal justice reform proposal due today

    August 25, 2016
    We'll get a good sense of what criminal justice reform legislation might look like in the 2017 General Assembly later today — as well as some potential stumbling blocks to its passage. Justice Center, an offshoot of the national nonprofit Council of State Governments, will offer policy recommendations to the Legislative Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force this afternoon at the Arkansas Association of Counties conference. /more/
  • More »

Comments (13)

Showing 1-13 of 13

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-13 of 13

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Marriage is so sacred in Arkansas people do it over and over again

    Arkansas leads the country in multiple marriages, including in the percentage who've been married three or more times. And they say it is the gay people who are ruining marriage.
    • Mar 13, 2015
  • If Jason Rapert didn't exist, we'd have to invent him

    Sen. Jason "Dr. Strangelove" Rapert defends his nuclear option for dealing with Middle East terrorism. Any criticism of him is only due to liberal misrepresentation, he says, not his own plain language.
    • Feb 16, 2015
  • Is Arkansas planning to withdraw from PARCC, the Common Core testing consortium?

    Rep. Mark Lowery, a Republican from Maumelle, has introduced a bill that would put the brakes on Arkansas's implementation of standardized testing based on Common Core State Standards. Lowery says the bill is motivated in part because legislators have been told by ADE officials, unofficially, that "the PARCC contract will not be renewed" beyond the current academic year.
    • Feb 3, 2015

Most Shared

  • George H.W. Bush will vote for Hillary. Or will he?

    Politico reports that Kathleen Harrington Kennedy Townsend says former Republican President George H.W. Bush is voting for Hillary Clinton for president. The article quotes a Bush spokesman as declining to confirm or deny.
  • Who's harming women?

    Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is an Arkansas Republican. Thus, like the governor and the Republican-majority legislature, she intends to do everything she can to deny women comprehensive medical care, particularly abortion.
  • New normal

    No two presidential candidates since polling began have run up negatives as massive as those of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who yet won their parties' nominations easily. "What gives?" may be the biggest political mystery in history.
  • Additional rape charges filed against Conway doctor

    Special Prosecutor Jason Barrett has added 11 more victims to two others alleging rape by Dr. Robert Rook of Conway.
  • Big Dam Bridge 100 brings big damn complaint about celebrity rider Hincapie

    The Big Dam Bridge 100 is this weekend and one dedicated biker isn't happy about a celebrity rider, admitted doper George Hincapie.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

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