The legislative hopper: A tax on vaping; health care 'deform' from self-dealing legislator: UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Monday, January 26, 2015

The legislative hopper: A tax on vaping; health care 'deform' from self-dealing legislator: UPDATE

Posted By on Mon, Jan 26, 2015 at 2:11 PM

Legislation filed today:

* E-CIGARETTES: This bill by Rep. Charles Blake of  Little Rock would tax e-cigarettes — 7.5 cents per fluid milliliter of consumable product sold. The money would be split in equal parts among early childhood education, adult services fund, veterans and general revenues.  

* ATTACK ON HEALTH PROGRAM: Newly elected Tea Party legislators from Jonesboro have tossed in this bill to eviscerate a successful health program. It would essentially undo the payment improvement initiative that has saved Medicaid signifcant sums. Sen. Cooper and Rep. Sullivan want to prohibit reimbursement based on "episodes of care" or anything that put a predetermined aggregate limit on a diagnosis.

And you wonder why we have runaway health care costs.

It remains to be seen if the Jonesboro posse — still adamantly opposed to the private option — can muster any support for this bad idea.

Speaking of Rep. Dan Sullivan: He's the guy who runs a big behavioral health service and — in the great tradition of self-dealing legislators — has introduced a bill to kill  that's supposed to measure the effectiveness of the service he gets millions in tax money to provide. Claudia Lauer had the details in a Sunday story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

UPDATE: The Department of Human Services, which oversees the Payment Improvement Initiative, is unhappy about Sullivan's bill to gut the Medicaid savings program. A statement from spokesperson Amy Webb:

We’d be very concerned if this bill passed. The state’s budget is built based on the Arkansas Health Care Payment Improvement Initiative continuing. Since the initiative began, we’ve seen historically low growth rates in the Medicaid program. We can’t say that the initiative is the sole factor, but it certainly is a contributing factor. Moreover, if this bill is passed it likely would put a $42 million federal grant for the initiative at risk. Lastly, first year results showed that the initiative is improving patient care. So we’ll work with Legislative leadership and the Governor’s office to address the bill.

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