by Max Brantley
Arkansas Republicans — abetted by the Koch lobby and other corporate interest groups — are loudly selling the message that the coming of expanded health coverage is a ticket to a November Republican electoral sweep. Arkansas voters will understand — won't they? — that they are better off without health insurance, without coverage for pre-existing conditions, without coverage for kids, with profiteering insurance companies and without the stimulus health spending would bring one of the country's poorest states. After all, they've been gulled before.
There are obstacles.
Some people really would like to have health insurance for their cancer treatment.
Some people think $2 billion in federal spending in Arkansas might trickle down to grocery stores, Walmarts, lunch counters and other places where commerce occurs.
Also, as I pointed out yesterday, the new Medicaid expansion comes free from the feds for three years and then with only a maximum 10 percent state match. This will save Arkansas millions on existing Medicaid payments that require a 25 percent state match.
Now, how about this fact just presented to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, whose George Wallace-style opposition to universal health care is so admired in Arkansas that he's to be a featured speaker at a coming Arkansas Republican dinner. From my hometown newspaper, an assessment of what Jindal's decision to block Medicaid expansion there could mean. Same rule applies in Arkansas. It turns on the coming shrinkage of federal money provided for uninsured care (care that came to $175 million at UAMS in 2011, to name one).
Hospital leaders say the situation could leave some LSU-run public hospitals and small rural hospitals teetering on the edge of closure and give them little way to recoup money they spend to care for uninsured patients.
Louisiana Hospital Association leader John Matessino says the situation could be "double whammy" to hospitals.
The federal Affordable Care Act will cut federal dollars that states like Louisiana use to care for large numbers of uninsured, under the idea that those dollars will be less needed because more people would get insurance through Medicaid.
Sens. Lamoureux and Irvin, Reps. Burris and Bell, and all the others madly decrying the evils of Medicaid expansion, are you ready to tell your favorite hospital to go suck a lemon?