The feds will run Arkansas insurance exchanges | Arkansas Blog

Friday, December 2, 2011

The feds will run Arkansas insurance exchanges

Posted By on Fri, Dec 2, 2011 at 10:07 AM

It's official. The federal government will run Arkansas health insurance exchanges established under the health care reform. Unified Republican opposition to state control beat the more sensible idea of taking federal planning money so that Arkansas insurance regulators could set up a plan tailored to Arkansas. Yes, Republicans are in the minority in the legislature, barely. But they were prepared to hammer every Democrat on the ballot with Obamacare had the money been taken. (They'll do it anyway, so you could also argue that Gov. Mike Beebe should get a backbone and take the money and run with it.)

Roby Brock reports on Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford's final decision and the blame-placing on Arkansas Republicans. Sorry, GOP. You can't have it both ways. You can't get what you wanted and then blame federal control on the Democrats, too.

Bradford notes that the decision could do more than cost Arkansas control. It could cost millions in insurance premium revenue, depending on how the program is implemented.

This one is simple and should have been bipartisan, but Republican dogma is a "massive resistance" strategy against all Democratic initiatives. Shades of the civil rights era.

If the health care reform law is to be upheld, it makes sense for the state's to maximize control and federal money. A number of Republican governors in other states have made this precise conclusion and taken the money, while still decrying Obamacare. That was the correct call here, by both Beebe and Republican legslators. But Arkansas Republicans, gauging the depth of dislike for the black president, have decided to oppose anything and everything to do with him, no matter the damaging consequences to Arkansas people. They are working out of an ALEC playbook on this. It's cynical and damaging to Arkansas people. In short, they would have been critical whichever way this went. Beebe is merely a wimp for caving and trying to provide protection to nervous Democratic colleagues.

PS — Party hacks and flacks are debating this endlessly on Twitter trying to blame each other. It remains simple. Just because the law is under challenge is not an excuse to put off implementing it, as pizza magnate Mark Darr contends To say otherwise is to say you'd have fought federal desegregation law, the People With Disabilities Act, the Family Medical Leave Act or Women's Suffrage until the last dog died. (Wait, Republicans probably would have.) As a practical matter, Republicans have sufficient numbers to tie up the Insurance Commission's budget if Beebe moves ahead getting the money so he has a practical reason not to move forward without them, including providing a scant bit of political cover for Democrats. I still think Beebe could fight the fight, but he's been more successful at politics than I have been. Republicans are having their cake and eating it. Unlike Republicans in other states, they've blocked health insurance exchange planning for needy Arkansans. The feds will do it now. The Republicans are getting their way and they want to blame Democrats for federal control. Crazy.

Why are Arkies so pig-headed? Who knows. Here's a rundown on all states and planning money. Something like 38 have decided to participate. Even states that have sued to stop HCR are taking the money. What do Mark Darr and Jason Rapert know that those good Republican states don't know?

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