Brummett's blog expands on the notion of using a cigarette tax increase to leverage a triple match from the feds for Medicaid. He talks with Sen. Blanche Lincoln, who discusses plans afoot for more federal support of Medicaid, particularly in poor states like Arkansas. Altogether, a big cigarette tax boost could produce a significant return. Given the health costs that smoking produces, it makes sense.
A 75-cent boost still would leave Arkansas 20th, not counting other boosts planned elsewhere. That would cover the trauma system and leave as much as $75 million -- $300 million counting the federal match -- for Medicaid, which pays for nursing home care, home health services and medical care for the poor, many of them elderly.