by Christine Keller
Tea party friends,
Since we have asked you to contact legislators about the most important issue for several sessions, Medicaid expansion (Obamacare), we should let you know what happened, if you did not hear already.
It was a long and crazy, nail-biting day at the legislature yesterday, and we still do not have all the facts, but this is what we know. A couple of us on the WCTP board were communicating with people at the Capitol minute-by-minute as things changed throughout the day. First they were able to literally threaten/bribe/coerce enough Republican representatives to approve the Medicaid expansion funding (Tuesday). House votes here. Then it became apparent that there were not enough votes in the Senate to approve it yesterday. If the appropriation funding was stopped in the Senate, the whole thing was off. But it came down to one vote they needed to win, and that was Republican Missy Irvin of Mountain View. There was considerable pressure placed on her. Finally, she insisted on an amendment to the enabling legislation bill. The House expunged the earlier vote and re-voted on it, and it passed.
Long story short: Late last night, after apparently suspending rules and a flurry of activity and forcing it through both Houses, the whole deal passed–enabling legislation and funding.
Senate funding votes here. Only Senators Hendren, Hester, Bledsoe, Stubblefield, Clark, English, and King kept standing. All other senators gave in.
This is the amendment Missy Irvin added: http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/assembly/2013/2013R/Amendments/SB1020-H3.pdf
Some are claiming this is a good thing, since the whole thing hinges on the approval of the Obama Administration, which may not approve it with this amendment. But most see this as the end of Arkansas’s chance to actually say no to Obamacare in Arkansas. It has been a bitter fight, with hard feelings on both sides. Many grassroots conservatives around the state are furious today. Whether you agree or disagree with “private option,” the fact is, it was pushed through the legislature late at night at breakneck speed and without the approval of voters, and with numerous objections from a host of conservative groups/activists who had legitimate reasons to oppose it. Mr. Beebe is happy about getting this done.
Mike Beebe: “”It’s taking something that most Arkansans would never have approved and making it better,” Beebe told reporters Wednesday.” (Click here to read more.) Does that sound like good news to you?
Whether you agree or disagree with the deal, it is still the largest expansion of government in Arkansas history, a major growth in spending, and it was rushed through against numerous credible objections. Certain legislators were publicly reporting that threats and intimidation were used to get it passed. That is not the kind of government we expect from the new majority in Arkansas.
Next Tuesday, April 23, at 7:00 pm at the GuestHouse Hotel (formerly Clarion Inn) at 540/62, the Republican legislators will be at the Republican Committee/Republican Women meeting if you want to express your outrage.
The next step in the process is the legislation to set up health care exchanges. Yes, the same exchanges that other states are rejecting. Republican Mark Biviano introduced legislation to set it up, and it has passed to the Senate, which will take it up today. This is the final step to firmly cement Obamacare in Arkansas, and we Arkansas taxpayers will be stuck paying the bill. Read/track bill here.
In case you needed more reason to be disappointed in our Republican legislators for expanding Medicaid, here is something to read: “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.” Read more about why states must reject Medicaid expansion here.
This was a crushing defeat, but we will pick ourselves up and go on because we must. Stay tuned.