by Max Brantley
The legislative vote to avail Arkansas of Obamacare Medicaid expansion money. Good or bad?
Here are two views from polar opposites.
First, from the Koch-funded, anti-tax, anti-government, anti-regulation Arkansas affiliate of Americans for Prosperity, which spent millions to elect a Republican-majority legislature in tune with its thinking:
In a move that will add tens of thousands of Arkansans to an already broken system, AFP-Arkansas believes the affirmative vote on the private option expansion of Medicaid in the state could become a cautionary tale.
AFP-Arkansas Director Jason Cline said, “While we’re glad that legislators acknowledged the concerns that we have consistently expressed during the Medicaid discussion, the fact remains that this bill is too big to get it wrong. This reform package was and is still too expensive and leaves too many opportunities for Washington, D.C., to control Arkansans’ health decisions.”
A last-minute amendment was added to the expansion bill that offered some promise; however, giving themselves only an hour to write good policy is difficult for anyone to do. As such, AFP-Arkansas does not see any substantive changes in the way the private option expansion bill will be implemented.
Continued Cline, “We give credit to the legislators for attempting to do what most felt was best for the citizens of this state, but at the end of the day there are still too many concerns and too little transparency with this option.”
Then there's the Arkansas Citizens First Congress, a progressive group dedicated to grassroots advocacy for working people, clean air, fair taxes and that sort of thing.
HUGE NEWS: HB1219 to authorize funds to expand health care to 250,000 Arkansans PASSED last night 28-7 (needed 75% majority or 27 votes to pass). Now the legislation will go to the Governor for signing. This is a huge win for all Arkansans!
This is truly an historic moment for Arkansas, and for the entire country. Many other states have had their eyes on us to see if the somewhat unconventional plan worked out between Governor Beebe and Sec. of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sibelius would work. Our state has come out as a national leader in finding workable solutions to implement the Affordable Care Act and expand health insurance coverage to those who need it most!
Please THANK your supporting Senators for what was a hard vote for many (see the vote here). A 75% majority for a controversial piece of legislation like this required the kind of bipartisan cooperation that Arkansas is known for. Our thanks to MANY of you who jammed your legislator's mailboxes, filled the halls of the Capitol and made your voice heard. Thanks also to our many tremendous partners in this effort — esp. the fine folks at Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. This bill saves lives, keeps families out of bankruptcy, helps the economy and helps preserve quality rural health care.
Let's celebrate this major victory for the people of Arkansas!