House Democrats respond to governor's statement on continuation of Medicaid expansion | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

House Democrats respond to governor's statement on continuation of Medicaid expansion

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2016 at 7:24 AM

MICHAEL JOHN GRAY: The Dems are with the governor on this one.
  • MICHAEL JOHN GRAY: The Dems are with the governor on this one.
Rep. Michael John Gray, the Democrats' House Minority Leader, released a statement shortly after Gov. Asa Hutchinson's presser making the case for the continuation of the private option: 

Today, Governor Hutchinson made it clear that he was taking the lead on health care policy in Arkansas. In fact, Governor Hutchinson didn’t mince words when expressing his desire to continue Medicaid expansion in Arkansas. Indeed, without the continuation of Medicaid expansion Arkansas would be facing at least a $100 million shortfall in his budget.

The Governor pointed out K-12 education and highways would likely be at the forefront of funding cuts. We share the Governor’s concern about the future of the State budget. As Democrats, we have consistently turned away from DC style politics to put the health care, education and basic needs of Arkansans first.

House Democrats look forward to working with Governor Hutchinson to protect the future of Arkansas. We know that the people of Arkansas deserve leaders who will put politics aside and look for common sense solutions.

In the hunt for necessary supermajorities, the focus won't be on the Democrats, it will be on the intra-party squabble within the Republican party. The governor should be able to get the support of most Republicans, but a rump group of nine senators (or 26 House members) could hold up the train. The future of the PO will depend on wobbly Republican legislators on the fence about the policy. 

But Democrats could play a major role if Hutchinson can't find his supermajority. That's because the 75-percent role works the other way too: The Dems could use the same trick the aginners have threatened to use — they could block the Medicaid appropriation if it doesn't include the PO. Many Capitol observers believe the Democrats will be aggressive in demanding that the private option stay in place, which could lead to a standstill — and the potential for a shutdown — if Hutchinson can't find supermajority support. 

Support for special health care reporting made possible by the Arkansas Public Policy Panel.

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