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How to think about Medicaid expansion in Arkansas and the national debt

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One argument we're hearing from Republicans against Medicaid expansion is that we can't afford to add to the federal debt. After all, even if it's a good deal for the fiscal bottom line in Arkansas to accept more than a billion dollars a year in federal spending, that money is coming from deficit spending on the national level.

But if Arkansas turns down the expansion money, it won't make a dent in the national debt — not even close. It's so tiny that it would take up more pages than we have in this issue to make a bar graph that properly showed you the scale. See below for a picture of just how insignificant it would be to the national debt if we say no. If we say yes? Here at home, the money would give coverage to more than 200,000 of our neediest citizens, add jobs, generate tax revenues and help keep hospitals alive.

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