Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Asa may waffle, but the private option is here to stay

Posted By on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 10:01 AM

Ernie Dumas gives Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson a jab for dodging a position on the private option expansion of Medicaid, while Democrat Mike Ross is loudly proclaiming his support for a plan crafted by Republican legislators.

But the main point of his column this week is this: The private option is a fact of life. It will endure because it must, for reasons practical and legal.

Asa's dilemma:

If he were forced to take a stand Hutchinson would have to say that he would keep the Medicaid expansion because scrapping it would wreck the state budget, end medical coverage for more than 200,000 of the state’s neediest citizens, imperil community hospitals, disappoint doctors who have begun to accept poor adults as patients because they now can pay, and end a big economic stimulus for businesses in every community. But openly embracing Obamacare like that could stifle his campaign to characterize Ross as a pawn of the evil people who saddled Arkansas with Obamacare.

Why won't it be scrapped?


If the state scraps the private option, it will have to once again shoulder Medicaid costs that were shifted to Washington last winter as part of the Obamacare bargain with the states. After seeing the big budget savings from the Obamacare shift, the legislature decided it could cut taxes last year. Hutchinson and Ross both promise more tax cuts next year but ending the private option would make that as fiscally reckless as it proved to be in Kansas.

A total of 185,000 persons have enrolled in expanded Medicaid and another 40,000 have bought insurance in the Obamacare exchange—together nearly half of all the previously uninsured citizens in Arkansas. When the new governor takes office, some 215,000 will be enrolled in expanded Medicaid alone. Will Hutchinson and, indeed, most Republican legislators want to end medical coverage for so many of their neighbors and constituents?
It was an easy vote for some Republicans last year because they viewed Medicaid, except for nursing home care, as welfare for all those black people in the Delta and south-central Arkansas. But they are learning that it is mostly a program for white working people and their children.

Dumas notes that 27,213 people in the virtually all-white six Northwest Arkansas counties have enrolled in the private option, against 27,871 in the 11 counties of the Delta, some but not all majority black.

By the way: The private option for now is all federal money. It can be appropriated by a simple majority vote. A quarter of the legislature can't kill it as with a state appropriation. Plus the case law is clear, Dumas writes: Once you create a program ("entitlement," if you will) you can't kill it by mere failure of a state appropriation.

Here's the whole column.
Favorite

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

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…

  • Eureka Springs City Council passes civil rights ordinance, sets stage for potential lawsuit

    The Eureka Springs City Council last night suspended the rules and hurriedly passed a civil rights ordinance that extends anti-discrimination protection to gay people in employment, housing and public accommodations. It sets up a potential legal challenge if the legislature completes passage of a law aimed at preserving legal discrimination against gay people.
    • Feb 10, 2015
  • SWEPCO drops power line project across Ozarks

    Southwestern Electric Power Company announced in a news release today that it is dropping plans for a $116 million power line across Northwest Arkansas because the project is no longer needed. It would have covered 60 miles between Benton and Carroll Counties.
    • Dec 30, 2014
  • More defense for the Duggars from Arkansas legislators Hester and Woods

    A couple of Arkansas Republican legislators rise to the defense of the Duggars. It's a family matter, they say. We beg to differ.
    • May 22, 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 Recent Comments

  • Re: Open line

    • I'm a podcast junkie now - and after the Arkansas Times Week in Review podcast,…

    • on July 24, 2016
  • Re: Open line

    • Currently, I'm not endorsing anyone for the presidential election - unless Bernie Sanders surprises everyone…

    • on July 24, 2016
  • Re: Open line

    • Sincere congratulations to Secretary Clinton for becoming the first major-party female nominee in a presidential…

    • on July 24, 2016

Blogroll

 

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