by Max Brantley
Actually, the state share might be a tenth of that, while the additional federal money flowing into the Arkansas economy as a result of the Medicaid expansion will exceed that $1.5 billion. Rather than costing the state treasury $1.5 billion in 2015, as Farrer seems to suggest, the state treasury will have gained a net $712 million. You may be opposed to providing insurance to poor people as a philosophical matter, but you cannot argue that you are voting “no” to protect the state treasury. If Farrer succeeds and the appropriation bill is defeated for good, North Metro Medical Center, where he is an administrator [director of therapy services] will be in a heap of trouble when a sizable part of its patient load can no longer pay and reimbursement rates go down.
If the Medicaid expansion is such a shocking and horrible thing, what did Farrer and the other foes think when a truly big expansion occurred in 1997? That was when Gov. Mike Huckabee, a conservative Republican, pushed the legislature into expanding Medicaid to cover many of the state’s youngsters—this year some 350,000 of them. It is a far larger and costlier program, both for the state and the federal government, than the “Obamacare private option” that he now opposes. Arkansas bears about 30 percent of those costs, not the 10 percent it will bear for the Obamacare recipients starting in 2020. Huckabee still brags that the huge expansion of Medicaid was his greatest achievement.
If those who say they want to save the state and federal government from larger deficits and debt are consistent, they should stop the appropriation for the Huckabee expansion as well, along with the money for public and private nursing home care for the elderly, the blind and disabled and the rest.
Wait! Since that money is embedded in the same bill, they are voting to do just that.