I was startled by Governor Beebe’s comments in the Democrat-Gazette this morning. He gave a brief and pithy explanation of the federal budgetary processes that justify Medicaid expansion. Unfortunately, his explanation was not only brief and pithy, but obviously wrong — and has been refuted repeatedly by health care policy experts across the country. Here’s what Beebe said.
There is an ideological argument about it. There is an emotional argument and some people just don’t like anything to do with Washington or anything to do with Obamacare. But that is not based upon the fact that Arkansas is paying for it whether we get it or not and we are just going to send our money to other states and [will be] leaving our own people out and that logic has never been refuted, even once.
Wait…never? Not even once? That seems like a strange thing to say, especially considering that, here at AAI, we’ve refuted it — repeatedly — and as recently as this week, when I was on northeast Arkansas radio. Real experts like Christi Corrieri of the Goldwater Institute has refuted it as well. Oh, and John Cooper refuted it just before he defeated Steve Rockwell.
Beebe is flat wrong that Arkansas’s money will go to other states. Here’s how this stuff really works: it’s not as if there’s some kind of pot of money that the other states can take from. That never happens. In fact, when Medicaid dollars aren’t spent by Arkansas, this reduces the federal debt substantially and creates savings for taxpayers; the money is never authorized or appropriated in the first place. There is no way to “send our money to other states.” It is embarrassing for Arkansas to have a chief executive who is eager to pontificate about how the federal budget works while being so fundamentally ill-informed about it.
Private-option observers should also note the Democrat-Gazette’s coverage of Senate President Pro Tempore Michael Lamoureux’s remarks. (I’m including this for both of the people on Twitter who’ve told me I’m “overstating” the impact of John Cooper’s win.) Here’s what Lamoureux said about the likelihood of continuing the ‘private’ option:
Unofficially, I am terrified…I don’t know if we’ll get 20 votes…There is no way to get 27 [senators] to say, ‘Yes, We are going to be there and we are going to do it.’ There are going to be four or five [senators] that consider their option right up until the time of the vote.
I think it’s fair to say our governor is terrified as well, because his scheme to implement Obamacare in Arkansas is in extraordinary jeopardy. I predict that as the fiscal session draws closer, his desperation will continue to manifest itself in unsupportable, irrational claims about Obamacare.