QUESTIONS TO PONDER
QUESTION 1. Would you support using your tax money for a government program to give benefits to able bodied working age adults who do not work and who do not have children?
Yes___ No ___
The Arkansas Legislature has already answered for you. They said “YES” spend the people’s money! The Legislature said “Yes” in 2013 when they adopted the Obamacare Medicaid expansion program, known in Arkansas as the “Private Option”. The Arkansas Legislature answered “Yes” again in March 2014 when they approved continued funding for the Private Option.
The question will soon be before the Arkansas Legislature again. In the first few months of 2015 the Legislature must decide whether to fund or defund the Private Option.
The target population of Obamacare Medicaid expansion (Private Option in Arkansas) is primarily able bodied working age adults. Nationwide about 82% do not have children and about 45% do not work. The target population in Arkansas is similar to the national numbers. In Arkansas 71.35% of the target population do not have children and 46% do not work.
QUESTION 2. Since almost half of the people eligible for the Private Option do not work, should Arkansas require able bodied enrollees to get a job or at least seek employment?
_____Yes _____ No
Sorry, you can’t require that. The Obama administration won’t allow it. Pennsylvania asked for permission to require “work search” activities as a condition of eligibility and the Obama administration DENIED the request. Isn’t it odd that President Obama has used executive orders to allow many exemptions and delays to Obamacare but the Obama administration has no interest in allowing states to adopt a common sense work or work search requirement.
QUESTION 3. Arkansas will soon have to pay 100s of millions of dollars a year to support the Private Option. Would you prefer to:
_____ A. Raise taxes to support the Private Option
_____ B. Slash existing government services (Examples of services to cut include: health services for the elderly, disabled and children; mental health services; law enforcement and prisons; pre-k education, general education, higher education and technical education; economic development and job training programs; etc.)
_____ C. End the Private Option as quickly as possible.
In 2017 Arkansas must start paying a share of the cost of the Private Option. It is not just a small amount, it is hundreds of millions of dollars in budget busting money. Even if the economy improves there is no way to fund the program from revenue generated from economic growth. To keep the Obamacare Private Option, Arkansas will soon be faced with either raising taxes or cutting other state services. If state services are cut that includes cutting economic development and job creation programs that would benefit the Private Option population. It would mean cutting other programs that benefit that population, as well as the state as a whole.
For now the Private Option is being funded by the federal government and repayment of cost overruns is in the future. With it being federal money why should we care? Federal money doesn’t grow on trees and there is no pot of Medicaid expansion money lying around. With the United States being $18 trillion in debt, the money for the federal share of the Arkansas Private Option is borrowed from countries like China. You and future generations will have to repay these loans. The huge government debt will make it very difficult for taxpaying families to ever get a federal tax cut. Hope you like your taxes.
QUESTION 4. Which is the fairer and better use of your tax money?
_____ A. Provide Obamacare Medicaid expansion benefits through the Arkansas Private Option to able bodied people who do not work.
_____ B. Economic development and job training to help Arkansans obtain jobs and support themselves, and continuing to fund other state services that benefit Arkansans.
Yes, the question is one of fairness. The Private Option already puts enrollees ahead of our elderly and disabled for health services and for health providers. Continuation of the program means Arkansas must decide who loses in order to pay for benefits to able bodied adults who do not work.
The Arkansas Legislature convenes on January 12, 2015.
Contact information for State Representatives and State Senators can be found at http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/