National media eyes Medicaid expansion debate in Arkansas

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Sen. Michael Lamoureux
  • Sen. Michael Lamoureux

Sen. Michael Lamoureux
  • Sen. Michael Lamoureux

Yesterday’s look at the upcoming debates in state legislatures over Medicaid expansion in the Washington Post highlighted Arkansas as a key battleground state. Incoming Arkansas Senate President Michael Lamoureux calls Medicaid expansion “the number one issue…in 10 years this is by far the most difficult one we’ve ever dealt with.”

Sen. Cecile Bledsoe gives the Post the talking points familiar to anyone following Arkansas Republicans since the Supreme Court kicked the expansion question back to the states last summer.

Arkansas state Sen. Cecile Bledsoe (R) questions whether the federal government can be counted on to maintain such a high match rate in perpetuity. With all the budget pressures facing Congress members, said Bledsoe, how can she be sure they won’t shift more of the burden to states down the road?

Last August Obama officials sought to allay such concerns by clarifying that states are free to drop out of the Medicaid expansion at any time. But Bledsoe, a key leader in the Arkansas Senate on health issues, said that’s not a realistic option.

“We’re not going to put more than 250,000 people on our Medicaid rolls, then pull them off,” she said.

Bledsoe said she will not feel confident about the federal commitment at least until after Obama concludes negotiations with congressional Republicans over avoiding the “fiscal cliff.”

“At this point I don’t see anyone willing to take a chance on what the federal government might or might not do,” she said.

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