Americans for Prosperity denounces governor's plan to pass Medicaid expansion via line-item veto | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Americans for Prosperity denounces governor's plan to pass Medicaid expansion via line-item veto

Posted By on Thu, Apr 14, 2016 at 6:50 PM

If you've been following the blog today, you know the procedural wrangling at the Capitol: With the senate at an impasse, the governor and senate leadership are pushing a plan to use the line-item veto to pass a Medicaid budget and continue the Medicaid expansion. The idea is to allow an amendment killing "Arkansas Works," the legislation to continue the private option Medicaid expansion, to the Medical Services appropriation. Once that appropriation was passed, the governor would nix the amendment via the line item veto, and "Arkansas Works" would be funded. 

While the approach would allow the Tea Party Ten to make a show vote against "Arkansas Works," in practice the Medicaid expansion would continue. In short, in terms of substantive policy, the Tea Party Ten would surrender. 

Americans for Prosperity doesn't like that idea. 

"We are opposed to this sort of procedural gamesmanship in order to extend the Medicaid expansion," said AFP-Arkansas State Director David Ray.

It may be a bit convoluted, but the "procedural gamesmanship" that Ray refers to is simply the governor using legal mechanisms available via the Arkansas Constitution — no different than the Tea Party Ten's use of the supermajority requirement to threaten a government shutdown. 

The more plausible explanation for AFP's opposition is the second half of Ray's sentence: the governor's aim is to continue the Medicaid expansion and its coverage of 267,000 Arkansans. AFP wants that coverage to end, so they oppose the governor's plan. 

What Ray, AFP, and other Medicaid expansion opponents have to do now is convince Sen. Bart Hester and Sen. Blake Johnson (who publicly said they would go along with the governor's plan), as well as the rest of the aginners (a handful of others are rumored to be ready to join Hester and Johnson).  They have to convince them to vote against their own appropriation in order to continue the shutdown threat to the bitter end. It won't just be AFP applying the pressure. Johnson's campaign got big-money backing from anti-Obamacare advocacy group Conduit for Action. I suspect his phone will be ringing this weekend. 

AFP and co. will have a little more time to make their pitch. Democrats today rejected the amendment in Joint Budget Committee, stalling the plan that AFP is aiming to quash altogether. The Democrats' move was understandable. Most of them learned of the governor's plan only hours before the vote, they still have legitimate questions, and they are naturally reluctant to go on record voting to end a policy they support. 

Many Democrats also expressed their own irritation at the "procedural gamesmanship." On that, at least today, the Democrats and AFP find themselves in agreement. 

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