Chamber endorses 'private option' Medicaid plan | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Chamber endorses 'private option' Medicaid plan

Posted By on Thu, Mar 28, 2013 at 9:11 AM

This ought to cinch it. The masters of the universe have spoken:

The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas has today announced its support for the “private option” healthcare coverage approach currently under discussion by members of the Arkansas General Assembly and the Governor’s office.

“Arkansas has a unique and special opportunity to help address healthcare coverage needs for low-income Arkansans through a private insurance model,” said Randy Zook, president & CEO of the State Chamber/AIA. “Our hope is that by increasing enrollment in the private insurance market and encouraging competition in the health insurance marketplace, we will see more Arkansans obtain healthcare coverage and ultimately lower costs for those services. This action will also ensure that Arkansas businesses are not hit with a de facto tax increase from fines that would apply if the state does not move ahead on this issue.”

The State of Arkansas has received preliminary approval from the federal Department of Health and Human Services to use Medicaid expansion dollars in a different way that allows for low-income Arkansans to receive health coverage via private insurance.

“There is no question that a healthier workforce means a more productive workforce for Arkansas’s economy,” said Zook. “We applaud those working diligently on this very promising proposal including House and Senate leadership and Governor Beebe."

What I don't get is why the chamber types hated Barack Obama so much. Amid the rush to praise lightweights like David Sanders as the supposed geniuses behind the private option, I must note again that this was Barack Obama's market-based solution back in 2007, as Ernie Dumas noted this week. The plan got altered to attempt, unsuccessfully, to meet diehard Republican opposition.

Speaking of diehard opposition, I noted House Republican Leader Bruce Westerman whining again on Twitter this morning about the "feds" making us do this thing, while bragging about what a superior approach Republicans have developed. Not true. We still have the option of throwing granny, kids and working poor under the bus if Westerman really is that concerned about the federal budget. If he's going to take all that federal money because it provides Arkansas spare money for a tax cut, it's time to shut up about the feds making us do it.

And speaking of tax cuts: Which ones do you think the chamber is going to favor? Those spread fairly over the income spectrum? Or those heavily weighted to the rich? I still can't believe House Speaker Davy Carter is getting off scot-free with a capital gains tax cut that goes, the first year, entirely to millionaires. It applies only to profits of $5 million and up. In effect, a Walton would get to keep an additonal $140,000 of a gain on $5 million. We are supposed to believe this will create Arkansas jobs, not merely fatten the Walton's bank account.

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