Obamacare advertising debate another proxy fight on health care | Arkansas Blog

Friday, September 20, 2013

Obamacare advertising debate another proxy fight on health care

Posted By on Fri, Sep 20, 2013 at 10:03 AM

The Legislative Council will put off until the end of its long agenda today the debate on whether to approve the spending of almost $4 million for advertising to encourage people to sign up in the new health insurance exchanges provided under the Affordable Care Act. The spending plan was reduced earlier from about $4.5 million and a couple of tiny ad buys, at this noble organization, were removed entirely.

The debate is a proxy for Obamacare in general. The Koch's Americans for Prosperity and allied groups are going all out to defeat this wasteful spending. Rep. Nate Bell framed it honestly in a Tweet: #arleg voting to approve millions in advertising $$ for #Obamacare are voting FOR Obamacare.

The spending can't be approved without a full house of Democratic members of the council. There's a chance that even some of the Republicans who joined the 75 percent vote for the Arkansas version of Obamacare might see a vote against advertising as good cover among teabagging constituents still in an uproar over providing health insurance to the sick, more children and the working poor.

Advertising for people to sign up will encourage some people to sign up who might otherwise not. It also will help clarify a complicated issue. Foes of the program, naturally, oppose both results.

UPDATE: The U.S. House today, as expected, approved a short-term budget that strips health care spending under Obamacare. The Senate won't accept it and will send something different back to the House. Will Republicans shut down government Oct. 1 or won't they? Naturally, all the Arkansas House Republicans voted not to fund the Affordable Care Act, even though it is the law of the land. "Reckless" and "despicable" are words used by Democrats in responding to the Tom Cotton and Co. votes.

UPDATE II: The Legislative Council deferred action on the Obamacare ad spending until a future date. Rates for health exchanges to come out Monday. Opponents hope that will stir the pot further. Another meeting on the advertising will require a two-day notice.

Said U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor:

Today’s vote in the House of Representatives to shut down the government is irresponsible and will hurt our economy just at a time when it is beginning to turn the corner. Next week, when the real work begins in the Senate, I will work in a constructive way to keep the government open and keep our economy growing.

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