Will Arkansas advertise Obamacare despite vote today? | Arkansas Blog

Will Arkansas advertise Obamacare despite vote today?

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I reported earlier that a Tea Party insurrection had carried a Legislative Council vote in opposition to spending $4.5 million to advertise the availability of new insurance options under the Affordable Care Act, whether through the Medicaid expansion or health exchanges.

I reported, too, that legislative "review" is just that. It is not binding on the executive branch, though for practical reasons it is generally treated that way. Here, the money is already in hand. The contract to spend ti has been drawn up. Obamacare will work better — more efficiently at a lower cost per person — if more participate. Rep. John Burris explained all the reasons for advertising Arkansas's new insurance program before throwing in with the teabaggers in opposition. He told me later that too many questions remain unanswered to move forward at this time.

So, I asked the governor's office, why not move ahead without legislative OK? Matt DeCample responded:

The governor said in his news availability that he generally does not go against the will of the legislature, and he doesn’t have immediate plans to take any action on the contract. He did, however, emphasize the importance of getting people informed and signed up for the private option to succeed, a private option that was approved by more than ¾ of the General assembly. He said that if legislators had other ideas for achieving that end, he would gladly meet with them to hear those ideas

David Ramsey also asked whether, if the money went back to the feds, if the feds could spend the money on advertising, using the same agency. He replied:

That is indeed a good logistics question, which means I don’t know the answer to it and you should probably check with Cindy Crone.

Crone, the deputy insurance commissioner, responded:

"We're going to have to sort it out" over the next few days. She said she'd notified the federal project officer about the development. There will be a federal information campaign in any case. Whether the additional money could provide a special Arkansas flavor is yet to be known.

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