AFP will "score" Medicaid expansion vote; group says lawmakers backing governor's procedural ploy are "supporting Obamacare" | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, April 21, 2016

AFP will "score" Medicaid expansion vote; group says lawmakers backing governor's procedural ploy are "supporting Obamacare"

Posted By on Thu, Apr 21, 2016 at 7:53 AM

AFP STATE DIRECTOR DAVID RAY: Still fishing. - VIA TWITTER
  • via twitter
  • AFP STATE DIRECTOR DAVID RAY: Still fishing.
Americans for Prosperity Arkansas issued a statement yesterday that they issued a "key vote alert" on Senate Bill 121, the Medicaid budget appropriation which will continue the private option Medicaid expansion:  "Americans for Prosperity will be scoring 'Nay' and 'Present' votes as a vote consistent with opposing/ending Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and 'Yea' votes as consistent with supporting Obamacare's Medicaid expansion."

AFP, a right-wing advocacy group that has poured millions in dark money into legislative and other campaigns in Arkansas over the last several election cycles, has been one of the loudest voices in opposition to the state's Medicaid expansion, which is funded by Obamacare. 

The SB 121 appropriation bill is designed with some ostensible cover — an amendment was included that purported to end the Medicaid expansion at the end of this year. However, Gov. Asa Hutchinson has promised to line-item veto that amendment so that the program will continue, fully funded (the governor will likely do so immediately after it passes the House, expected to happen this afternoon). Since the ruse is public and clear, AFP says that this is no cover at all: "Since Governor Hutchinson has made clear his intent to line-item veto language ending the program, the end result of this appropriation will advance Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion."

Sen. Bart Hester is an AFP darling and he caved and voted for SB 121. Will AFP go after him in future races (or be less of an ally than they've been in the past)? I asked AFP and will update if I receive a response (for legal reasons, AFP calls their work "educational" rather than electioneering, but the group is well known for stuff that looks like campaign ads to normal humans). [UPDATE: AFP Arkansas State Director David Ray declined to comment on the Hester question.]

Many Republicans in the legislature labor to stay in AFP's good graces. The fight is lost for AFP in the Senate, but perhaps they're hoping to exert some last-ditch pressure in the House. 

While AFP has always opposed the Medicaid expansion in Arkansas, it's worth noting that this is a more aggressive posture than AFP took on the last round of fights over the private option. For example, in 2014, AFP announced that they were not "scoring" the appropriation vote at all, and appeared to give implicit endorsement to a solution that involved voting for the appropriation. 

postscript: I wonder how AFP is scoring Sen. Missy Irvin, who was reportedly at a funeral and did not vote at all. 

UPDATE: On the Irvin question, Ray said, "If someone does’t cast a vote on a particular bill you can’t score it one way or the other."

Asked specifically about Irvin, Ray said, "She did vote against SB 121 the previous week when it came up for a vote and she voted against the enabling legislation. So those are two other votes we’re going to be taking into consideration as well." 

Full AFP statement after the jump: 
AFP-Arkansas Issues Statement on Senate Medicaid Expansion Vote

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Following this afternoon’s Senate vote on the appropriation to fund continuation of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, Americans for Prosperity – Arkansas issued the following statement:

"We applaud the Senators who voted against funding the continuation of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion in Arkansas. This program adds billions to in new government spending, makes more Arkansans dependent on a federal entitlement program, and robs future taxpayers who will have to foot the bill for this unsustainable program."

AFP issued a key vote alert for SB121, the appropriation for DHS Medical Services, which funds Obamacare's Medicaid expansion. Since Governor Hutchinson has made clear his intent to line-item veto language ending the program, the end result of this appropriation will advance Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. Americans for Prosperity will be scoring “Nay” and “Present” votes as a vote consistent with opposing/ending Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and “Yea” votes as consistent with supporting Obamacare's Medicaid expansion. 


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