Republicans cautious on Medicaid developments

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I mentioned yesterday that I'd sought some comment from Republican legislators on developments trumpeted by the Beebe administration yesterday.

1) Arkansas has won conditional federal approval for a partnership health exchange to create a market for health insurance for people who've previously had trouble getting it.

2) A new RAND study, commissioned for $27,000 by the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, echoes earlier research and finds that expansion of Medicaid in Arkansas would be a half-billion annual economic stimulus, create thousands of jobs, provide new insurance for hundreds of thousands and, through health coverage, save two thousand Arkansas lives a year.

I heard late in the evening from two Republican legislators. Their responses, in full, to my requests for comment:

* INCOMING SENATE LEADER MICHAEL LAMOUREUX:

It's the part after the first three years. But you are right that it isn't simple.

This is a reference to fact that federal money will pay all the cost of expansion for three years and then the state must pay a gradually rising share of the cost, eventually topping out at 10 percent by 2021 Some Republicans have argued that the uncertainty about a continuing commitment to that cost share is a reason not to take three years of benefits now.

* FORMER HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADER JOHN BURRIS:

I try never to ignore, thus this reply...

There are other facts that are important to all of this discussion. I would type them out at this late hour, but we both know we'll just disagree. If you would like to them, feel free to attend any committee meeting during the session. We have different philosophies that guide our decisions.

I believe my philosophy helps people also.

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