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common-sense-questions-for-gop-lawmakers-on-SB96— as published in the Jonesboro Sun today

Several GOP legislators who ran campaigns and won their races by being firmly against the Arkansas Private Option Medicaid expansion have now shocked their constituents by supporting SB96, which they assert would repeal the Private Option.  Although they give various reasons for doing so, I vehemently disagree with their arguments.

SB96 was filed the very afternoon Governor Asa Hutchinson gave his speech (January 22) in which he said the Private Option would continue through December 31, 2016, and the Legislature would appoint a Task Force:  “And the purpose of this task force is to find an alternative health coverage model to ensure health care services for vulnerable populations currently covered by the Private Option.”

SB96 says almost the same thing.  If the same population (220,000) in the Private Option is covered, there would have to be some form of Obama Medicaid expansion, i.e. the Private Option renamed.

An Arkansas journalist agrees with this assessment, explaining:

There’s no way this task force could come up with the hundreds upon hundreds of millions of dollars in savings needed to continue providing private health insurance to those quarter-million people in the Private Option without accepting federal Medicaid expansion money after 2017.

He goes on to say the notion the state could go back to Medicaid on a 70-30 federal-state match for this “vulnerable” population is “somewhere between a pipe dream and a charade.”  That’s why the liberal media is so jubilant over this SB96.

Every legislator who appoints this Task Force (with the exception of one) voted for the Private Option in 2013 and 2014.

Following are questions that point out other concerns:

♦  Why are liberal journalists jubilant over the Senate’s passage of SB96?
♦  Why are Democrats — who all supported the Private Option in 2013-14 — voting for SB96?
♦  Why are leaders rushing this SB96 through before new legislators can even learn what is in it and mount a defense?
♦  Why are several formerly anti-Private Option legislators saying there may be lawsuits if we end the Private Option at the end of 2015, when written language in the Private Option in three different places actually protects against lawsuits?
♦  And why are some legislators contending SB96 is a repeal bill when the Private Option law (Act 1498) ends the Private Option on the exact date that SB96 ends it?

The situation is now worse than before because a Task Force whose purpose is to recommend an alternative health care model (that according to our Governor would cover the “populations covered by the Private Option”) is included in SB96.

If this SB96 passes the House, we will probably be implementing Obama’s plan indefinitely, with the biggest government expansion and redistribution of wealth in Arkansas history.

Debbie Pelley,
Jonesboro