Columns » Max Brantley

Bootstraps for me, not thee

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Rep. Josh Miller
  • Rep. Josh Miller

Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.

Rep. Josh Miller (R-Heber Springs) is in a tight race to the bottom with the mean-spirited Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs).

I first wrote about Miller in 2014. Left paralyzed by an alcohol-fueled wreck 13 years earlier, he was helped back to a productive place in society by significant government and charitable help. Medicaid paid most of a $1 million hospital and rehab bill. Miller was uninsured (a condition that had forced him already to go untreated from injuries in an earlier fist fight). His disability means he's a continuing beneficiary of government health coverage and other assistance, including daily personal care. Now, in addition to taxpayer payments of his legislative salary and federal benefits, he's in the rental real estate business, where his clients have included people who receive federal rent subsidies. Also, in 2013, one of his few legislative accomplishments was legislation to insure the disabled (such as Miller) would continue to receive Medicaid benefits regardless of income and would not have to undergo an asset test.

You might think Josh Miller would be more sympathetic. But he's one of two dozen or so in the House willing to see an end to all Medicaid services — benefiting everyone from children to the elderly in nursing homes — rather than accept the federal dollars that have given 267,000 people health coverage. This, remember, is the same kind of health coverage that Miller enjoys as the result of a drunken joy ride that turned tragic. He need not work nor submit to job training to receive it.

He wrote a post on his Facebook page defending his opposition to Medicaid expansion, even with the governor's amendments to make the poor more "accountable."

The private option has been a "disaster," Miller wrote. He claims it has made it more difficult for recipients of traditional Medicaid to get services.

Gov. Hutchinson's idea to make able-bodied recipients go to job training is no comfort to Miller. He said it will probably just amount to passing out a "pamphlet."  He wrote:

"I'm sure this training will include instructions like these:

A. Set your alarm

B. Get out of bed

C. Get dressed

D. Go look for a job

E. If offered a job, take it

F. Do you best to do your job

G. Repeat steps A, B, C and F every day of your employment.

I am not kidding about this. My feeling is that these adults (who are able bodied and healthy but are earning $00.00 don't want a job. Many of them have it figured out that they can stay unemployed and have their needs met by those who do believe in the principles of hard work. I'm sure that their lifestyle isn't what they might want it to be but, hey — they don't have to work 40+ hours a week to make ends meet like the taxpayers do. I honestly don't mind helping people who are trying to help themselves but I have a hard time giving the fruits of hard labor to those who CHOOSE to sit at home and do nothing.

Many people who get this insurance DO work, by the way.

A $19 monthly premium for recipients, as the governor has proposed, also doesn't assuage Miller. He thinks they won't pay.

It's the old story. A fellow who got a substantial hand up the ladder to self-sufficiency wants to tromp on the fingers of the people coming up behind him. He knows at least one who's deserving (Josh Miller), but he's convinced 267,000 are not.

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