Josh Miller protected insurance for himself while opposing it for poorer people | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Josh Miller protected insurance for himself while opposing it for poorer people

Posted By on Wed, Mar 5, 2014 at 12:15 PM

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Blue Hog Report beats me to the punch in digging up some legislative work by Rep. Josh Miller of Heber Springs. The Republican featured here previously for his opposition to expanding Medicaid for the working poor has, among limited legislative accomplishments, managed to protect Medicaid coverage for people with outside income like himself. 

Miller spoke proudly of this work in an interview with me. He said he hoped to expand on it in the future. He sees it as incentive to work.

Miller, who qualifies for government disability support and insurance as a result of being left a quadriplegic in a car accident years ago, has a rental property business in addition to government support. That support includes a program that provides a government-paid personal assistance. Miller has defended his opposition to Medicaid expansions by saying the government can't afford it and saying that it goes to undeserving people, some seeking drugs and some unwilling to work. He prefers programs that provide incentives to work. As Blue Hog explains, Miller's 2013 legislation is, if anything, an example of how government assistance can help people work. Like Miller.

Miller's 2013 legislation removed the cap on earned income for people receiving Medicaid. That would include Josh Miller, the rental property businessman and Medicaid program recipient. That's not all the law did:

Then he took it a step further, moving straight from “selfish” to “whoa…seriously?” Act 1048 also changes Arkansas Code Annotated 20-77-1204 regarding the administration of Medicaid for “Low-Income Disabled Working Persons.” Specifically, Rep. Miller’s bill added 1204(c), which states:

A rule adopted under this section shall not include a test for income, assets, or resources.

Yup. Oh, sure, 1204(b)(2) explicitly requires DHS to adopt rules that establish “premium and cost-sharing charges on a sliding scale based on income” (emphasis added), but, thanks to Rep. Miller, DHS cannot actually include any kind of means testing in those rules. Because if Josh Miller or anyone else under the program wants to tell DHS that he or she makes a certain amount of money, who is DHS to verify that amount before cutting a check

Blue Hog notes also that the law provided that DHS get a waiver should any federal rule change imperil the special provisions for protection of Medicaid coverage for people with unlimited income.

The next time Miller says Medicaid is a disincentive to work you are allowed to roll your eyes.

To be clear: Miller voted yesterday against expanding Medicaid coverage to people making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $16,000 for a single person. That's just about how much an Arkansas representative makes, not counting per diem. (Miller drew $26,000 in expenses last year). He also draws money from his property management business (for some reason, no statement of financial interest appears for him online at the secretary of state's office to give an indication of the amount). But Miller is excepted from the private option in any case. He already has his Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and more.

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