Republican Betrayal Continues: Arkansas Governor Schemes to Save Obamacare

In lieu of the failure of the Arkansas state legislature to take action against Obamacare this year (covered in depth here), Governor Asa Hutchinson recently unveiled his seven-point plan for health care reform. This plan, when stripped of its bells and whistles, appears little more than a red herring to keep Obamacare implemented, keep Medicaid expanded, and minimize healthcare freedom in the Natural State.

Gov. Hutchinson’s unveiled his seven-point plan to the Arkansas Legislative Health Care Task Force in August. Here are the key points of his plan, taken directly from the governor’s official website:

1. IMPLEMENT MANDATORY EMPLOYER SPONSORED INSURANCE (ESI) PREMIUM ASSISTANCE

2.IMPLEMENT PREMIUMS FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH INCOMES MORE THAN 100% OF FPL

3. WORK TRAINING REFERRALS REQUIRED FOR UNEMPLOYED OR UNDEREMPLOYED

4. ELIMINATE NON-EMERGENCY MEDICAL TRANSPORTATION

5. LIMIT ACCESS TO PRIVATE MARKET COVERAGE TO WORKING INDIVIDUALS

6. COST SAVINGS

7. STRENGTHEN PROGRAM INTEGRITY

Keep in mind, government mandates were the primary problem with the U.S. healthcare system before Obamacare was enacted. After Obamacare, this problem became exponentially worse. So, what is Gov. Hutchinson’s plan to stop the bleeding? A whole new series of government mandates implemented by more government bureaucrats, under his stewardship.

Gov. Hutchinson’s seven-point plan doesn’t reform the system. It looks more like a scheme to dress up and preserve Arkansas’ “Private Option” – a.k.a. Medicaid expansion – and keep the federal money flowing into the state, regardless of the burden borne by Arkansas residents.

According to a Conduit for Action report, this was likely the plan all along. The GOP leadership in Arkansas is engaged in a game of cat-and-mouse with the public, trying to make it seem as if they are fighting Obamacare when they are really working in a stealthy, clandestine fashion to ensure its survival.

The cost analysis for Obamacare Medicaid Expansion presented [by Gov. Hutchinson] is much more optimistic than the projection given in 2013 by Optimus who were consultants for the Department of Human Services. The prediction given on Wednesday claims a saving until 2020 at which point the state would have to contribute $16 million and then the next few years the state would need to come up with $50 million to $60 million a year. Although the new projection is lower, it is not inconsequential to Arkansas’ balanced budget. For example, to balance the budget in 2015 the state cut assistance to some programs, including a $1 million cut from the support to area agencies on aging which has resulted in agencies looking to close several senior citizens centers in rural areas.

The proposal to continue Obamacare Medicaid Expansion was not unexpected.

The move tracks Act 47 of 2015 (SB96) which bought time for the Obamacare Medicaid Expansion. Although the Act was vigorously defended as a way to end the Private Option in December 2016, the Act specifically admitted the federal waiver would end then anyway. Act 46 paved the way for continuation of the Obamacare program by establishing a task force which has as its first listed duty – recommending a way to continue to cover the Obamacare Medicaid Expansion population in the future.

In addition to covering up the true cost of Medicaid expansion, Gov. Hutchinson also tugged at the public’s heart strings in his quest to implement Obamacare during his address to the Arkansas Legislative Health Care Task Force.

“The 220,000 currently on the Private Option should have an affordable way to access healthcare,” Gov. Hutchinson said. “In other words, we know now that those covered by expanded healthcare coverage are Arkansans, our friends, our neighbors, our family members that we care about. That’s a value that we must protect.”

While Gov. Hutchinson may attempt to manipulate the people of Arkansas, and push the implementation of Obamacare and the expansion of federal entitlement programs, the actual figures drive a stake through the heart of the false narrative asserting it will help Arkansas families. Despite the spin coming from the governor’s office, the data is in regarding the effects of Obamacare in the state, and it’s not pretty.

Forbes reported on the immense waste and fraud several months back related to the Private Option in Arkansas, and it’s likely just the tip of the iceberg.

Internal e-mails from the Arkansas Department of Human Services surfaced, revealing that the state had never bothered to verify that individuals enrolled in Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion were still eligible for benefits. According to data provided by state officials, this is costing taxpayers up to $20 million each and every month…

State officials contended that they had received a temporary waiver from the Obama administration, allowing them extra time to perform the eligibility checks. But it turns out that no formal waiver ever existed…

Meanwhile, nearly 3,000 children and adults with developmental disabilities are sitting on Medicaid waiting lists. Some of them have been waiting eight years or more for their needed home- and community-based services. They continue to wait, while Arkansas bureaucrats provide Obamacare welfare to 40,000 able-bodied adults who aren’t even eligible.

Gov. Hutchinson is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of his constituents. He wants Arkansans to believe that this avalanche of corruption will just disappear after a few more government mandates go into into place – in other words that the solution is more of the problem. In reality, Gov. Hutchinson is gunning for federal dollars and he’s willing to sacrifice Arkansans’ healthcare freedom to get it.

ACTION STEPS

  • Call Gov. Hutchinson: Tell him his seven-point plan is unacceptable, demand that he NOT call a special legislative session to enact new government-run health care schemes, and tell him that you will accept nothing less than a full-scale repeal of Obamacare and the Private Option! Demand market solutions, not government mandates! His number is (501) 682-2345.
  • Call the Health Care Task Force: Urge them to accept nothing less than the full dismantling of the Private Option! Accept no quick fixes, accept no tinkering, accept no ‘lip stick.’ Just demand that they repeal the Private Option, and refuse to participate in all Obamacare-related federal mandates. You can find a list of the Task Force members HERE and their contact information HERE. Make sure you call them because a call leaves 10x more impact than an email.
  • Call your state legislators: Demand for them to introduce our comprehensive five-step plan to gut Obamacare. Don’t take no for an answer! Let them know that you aren’t bluffing and that they will feel the pain during election season if they refuse to act! You can find their contact information HERE. Make sure you call them because a call leaves 10x more impact than an email.
  • Urge others to take these important action steps: Only if we stand strong, and stand together can we defeat Obamacare in Arkansas. So make sure to spread the word as much as possible to make it happen!

About Tenth Amendment Center
The Tenth Amendment Center is a national think tank that works to preserve and protect the principles of strictly limited government through information, education, and activism. The center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of state and individual sovereignty issues, focusing primarily on the decentralization of federal government power as required by the Constitution. For more information visit the Tenth Amendment Center Blog.

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