NEWSMAKER: Arkansas Sen. Bryan King makes the headlines in Kansas for Medicaid opposition.
Sen. Bryan King,
one of the hardline opponents to the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, was brought out to testify in Kansas against that state expanding Medicaid
coverage with Obamacare money as Arkansas has done — and continues to do under Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson
King repeated his usual talking points, mostly that it costs more. Indeed, the federal government is pouring more money into the program, but it's being paid for with new fees and it is generating huge sums for the states in medical cost savings and in job creation for the industry that serves the vastly expanded number of recipients.
King dragged out the unsupported notion that providing health insurance is a disincentive to work, though the expansion covers people who earn too much to qualify for regular Medicaid. They are working, in other words. King suggested some work less so as to qualify for health insurance. King also contended enrollment fell short of projections, which I don't think is correct. Some 300,000 have benefited, though state law prohibited expenditure of money on advertising the program.
King dismissed claims that expanding Medicaid had saved Arkansas money. More people do have coverage, he said, describing this as positive, but warned of “financial ramifications.”
“We are not saving money,” he said. “In reality, on traditional Medicaid, we’re spending more than ever.”
So far, the expansion has cost Arkansas nothing. The benefits have been fully paid by federal money. But the state will have to contribute a small share in future years, up to 10 percent of benefits, though most say the state will continue to be a net gainer because of the huge infusion of federal money. Indeed, it has helped the state budget enough to allow two rounds of income tax cuts.
King was invited to speak by a senator from Wichita, Daniel Hawkins. The article didn't note that King was in the minority as a Republican-controlled legislature approved the Medicaid expansion under first a Democratic and now a Republican governor.