Health bill: a states' rights attack UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Health bill: a states' rights attack UPDATE

Posted By on Wed, Mar 9, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Sen. Missy Irvin's bill to add expense and time-wasting to Arkansas implementation of health care reform law (and add elements to interpose the state against implementation) is being debated in Senate committee this morning. The doctor's wife has brought out the Heartland Institute to lobby against FOR the bill. This is an outfit, funded in part by the tobacco industry, that brands as junk science just about anything that calls for safety regulation. It has opposed the EPA and municipal wi-fi initiatives, among others. A roster of ultra-conservative foundations help provide support — Olin, Scaife, Bradley and more. They don't like the idea of climate change, either. More junk science.

Irvin's doctor husband also testified for his wife's bill.

Sen. David Burnett
  • Sen. David Burnett
UPDATE: Sen. David Burnett, believed to be a potential swing vote in committee (split 4-4 on party lines with 5 votes needed for favorable recommendation) is quoted on Twitter feeds from David Goins as calling the bill what it is — a states' rights bill that is a frontal attack on health care reform that will cost Arkansas millions of federal dollars. He's dead right. The bill is dolled up with a bunch of words about financial reporting, but its essence (and I'd still like to know who wrote it for Irvin, maybe the Koch lobby that is out in force) is in the opening boilerplate:

The General Assembly finds that:

State officers are not agents of the federal government;

The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the states to address particular problems nor command the states' officers or those of their political subdivisions to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program;

Congressional mandates to the states to enact or enforce a federal regulatory program are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty;

The ghosts of Jim Johnson and George Wallace hover over these proceedings.

The Department of Human Services and the attorney general's office say the bill would put Medicaid funding at risk. Surgeon General Joe Thompson and the CEO of the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care also spoke against the bill.

UPDATE: The bill failed to clear committee on a 4-4 vote. Constitutional government prevails, barely.

PS: There will be total accountability and transparency on the amounts spent on health care in Arkansas. This bill was, in short, unnecessary, except as a Trojan horse for a trick to block health care reform.

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