Cities & Counties get their marching orders: Lobby for Obamacare Medicaid Expansion

marching-band-hiCities and counties got their marching orders from members of their respective associations – rally behind the Governor’s version of Obamacare Medicaid Expansion “Arkansas Works.”

Why are cities and counties so interested in a program is overwhelmingly for able bodied working age people with no dependents, and nearly half don’t work at all?

Legislators are hearing their cities and counties say they were told to support “Arkansas Works” because if the Arkansas Works fails to pass then state support for city and county roads will be cut substantially.

How is there a connection between Obamacare Medicaid Expansion (Arkansas Works) and funds for city and county roads?

  • First, Medicaid Expansion supporters claim the program saves Arkansas $100 million or more per year and failure to continue it as Arkansas Works will result in a state budget hole that will strain the budget.  A pot hole holds more water than that claim. (See CFA articles: Claimed Private Option savings doesn’t withstand scrutinyArkansas Insurance Scheme Skims Millions in Federal Funds; and Private Option Budget Hole & Other Mythical Creatures.) 
  • Second, Governor Hutchinson is promising to use savings from proposed modifications to traditional Medicaid to provide highway funds. (If cities and counties don’t get on board with Arkansas Works, who knows, the Governor might decide not to include local roads as a beneficiary of the funds.) There are some significant problems with this funding idea. The Governor is promising the spending of money before one penny has actually been saved. In addition, the original idea for finding ways to reduce Medicaid spending was to respond to what was called “unsustainable” increases in Medicaid spending. Wouldn’t you expect any Medicaid saving to be used to forestall future increases or perhaps to address serious needs like the waiting list for services to the disabled.

Cities and counties depend on getting a slice of pie from the state so it is easy to see why they have been pushed into being pawns in this game. How many more groups that are dependent on state funds have found themselves (willingly or unwillingly) put in a position of lobbying legislators to pass Arkansas Works? If you depend on state funds, apparently you are expected to support all state spending.