Linda Collins-Smith to TEFRA family worried about Medicaid impasse: "You don't know what you're talking about" | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Linda Collins-Smith to TEFRA family worried about Medicaid impasse: "You don't know what you're talking about"

Posted By on Wed, Apr 20, 2016 at 1:28 PM

COLLINS-SMITH: "I love people, try to take care of them."
  • COLLINS-SMITH: "I love people, try to take care of them."
A citizen concerned about the Medicaid budget impasse shared a correspondence he had with Sen. Linda Collins-Smith

In his letter to Collins-Smith, he included a photograph of his daughter, a toddler with Down Syndrome. If Collins-Smith continued to block funding, he wrote, "you will be robbing this beautiful young lady, my daughter, of her TEFRA benefits that pay for her therapies. Please rethink your stance on this matter. Don't let the innocent pay for your dangerous game of chicken."

Collins-Smith, of course, is part of the Tea Party Ten, the group of ten senators who had threatened to block the entire Medicaid program unless the majority caved to their demands and killed "Arkansas Works," the governor's plan to continue the private option Medicaid expansion. (The impasse appears set to end this week, though Collins-Smith herself is still a holdout.)

To be clear — "Arkansas Works" itself covers only non-disabled adults who make less than 138 percent of the poverty line. But the Medicaid program — the budget that Collins-Smith is blocking to try to get her way on "Arkansas Works" — includes funding for the elderly in nursing homes, children on ARKids, the severely disabled, medical services for foster children, and TEFRA, the benefit mentioned in the letter. TEFRA is a Medicaid program that provides funding to help families provide care for disabled children.

Now, Collins-Smith would argue that she wants to fund the Medicaid program, which includes TEFRA. It's just that she'll only do that if the majority caves to her demands and strips "Arkansas Works" out (Collins-Smith is also unwilling to pass a Medicaid budget that plays along in a maneuver involving the line-item veto).

She could have attempted to explain that in her response, but she took a different route. Here is her response to the concerned citizen, who provided me with a screenshot:

click to enlarge collins-smith_response_large.png

I asked Collins-Smith about this correspondence. 

"I get lots of letters, I get lots of responses," she said. "I’ve had two whole nights of no sleep. And I respond to all of them – I’m good at that. I think everybody knows where I stand. I’m probably one of the best legislators to respond. I love people, try to take care of them. I’m a giver and do the best that I can." 

She continued: "But based on policy, I’ve made it very clear where I stand. I can love them all day, but when I look at the whole scheme of things, I do the best that I can based on that policy that I have to vote for. … I don’t like that policy ["Arkansas Works"]. It’s getting worse and worse by the minute." 

She said people should not draw conclusions based on the comments of the governor. "For the people of Arkansas, just hold your horses, the governor’s threatening people, don’t believe a thing until we come back to the drawing board," she said. "I’m working hard for these people … if I didn’t care I wouldn’t be going through this for them."

Collins-Smith claimed, without evidence, that “Arkansas Works” was taking money from the needy and giving it to able-bodied people. She also said “it’s got managed care in it.” Though the governor backs managed care for the traditional Medicaid program, “Arkansas Works” has nothing about managed care; this year's Medical Services appropriation likewise has no impact on whether or not the governor will pursue managed care. 

You might say that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, but that would be rude. 

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

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