Senator Jim Hendren is still making speeches claiming his Act 46 of 2015 (SB96) ends the “Private Option.” Yes, his legislation “says” it is is ending the program, but his legislation also admits the strong words do absolutely nothing.
Three provisions in the legislation make it sound like a repeal is happening but two other provisions admit the truth – the legislation doesn’t change the end of the program by even one second.
What his legislation did was to buy more time for Obamacare Medicaid Expansion in Arkansas by holding off bills that would have repealed Arkansas’ Obamacare Medicaid Expansion (Private Option.)
Section 6 of the Act is one of three misleading provisions being cited as proof of a repeal. It says:
SECTION 6. DO NOT CODIFY. Expiration of Health Care Independence Program.
Eligibility, enrollment and participation in Medicaid for the current Medicaid expansion population under the Health Care Independence Program authorized under § 20-77-2401 et seq., including the current Medicaid expansion population in the eligibility category created by Section 1902(a)(10)(A)(i)(VIII) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1396a, shall cease and terminate effective January 1, 2017, in the absence of legislative action by the General Assembly.
Section 3 (a)(2) reads:
(2) Under no circumstances may Medicaid eligibility be extended past December 31, 2016, for the current Medicaid expansion population under the Health Care Independence Program, commonly referred to as the “Private Option,” including the current Medicaid expansion population in the eligibility category created by Section 1902(a)(10)(A)(i)(VIII) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1396a, without express legislative approval through a proper enactment of law by the General Assembly.
And lastly Section 5(d) reads:
(d) The purpose of this section is to ensure that Medicaid eligibility does not continue past December 31, 2016, for the current Medicaid expansion population under the Health Care Independence Program, commonly referred to as the “Private Option,” including the current Medicaid expansion population in the eligibility category created by Section 1902(a)(10)(A)(i)(VIII) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1396a, without express approval through a proper enactment of law by the General Assembly.
The three provisions cited above sound like a repeal but when you read the full legislation it is clear that the provisions are meaningless. They change nothing. Hendren’s legislation itself clearly demonstrates that the provision are nothing more than a deception. His legislation accurately states that authorization for the program would end at the same time even without his legislation.
For proof that it does nothing, let’s read from Page 2 of Hendren’s Act 46.
WHEREAS, the Arkansas Health Care Independence Program and the federal waiver under which the state operates the Arkansas Health Care Independence Program will terminate on December 31, 2016, which will have the effect of ending eligibility for Medicaid expansion populations in the absence of legislative action by the General Assembly;
Also read his Section (d)(1)(E)(x)(a) which is part of the list of duties of the task force:
(x)(a) Continued payment innovation, delivery system reform, and market driven improvement, including without limitation the Arkansas Health Care Payment Improvement Initiative, for which current federal grant support will expire on or before December 31, 2016
Oops. His own legislation shows the alleged repeal did NOTHING to terminate the program. The authorization for the Private Option ends at the same time with or without his legislation.
In addition, when you read Arkansas’ original Private Option legislation it is clear that federal authorization for the program could not have been further extended because the Arkansas law allowing the Private Option to exist will expire on June 30, 2017. The Health Care Independence Act of 2013, by Senator Jonathan Dismang, says:
20-77-2408. Effective date.
This subchapter shall be in effect until June 30, 2017, unless amended or extended by the General Assembly.
To claim that Act 46 ends the Private Option is like someone looking in the Farmer’s Almanac to see when the sun will set and then passing legislation declaring that the sun must set at that same time. Such a law would be meaningless and so is the claim about Act 46 ending the Private Option.
What Senator Hendren’s legislation actually accomplished was:
- Derail legislation filed by Republican legislators who were seeking an early end to Arkansas’ Obamacare Medicaid Expansion (Private Option).
- Get Arkansas’ Obamacare Medicaid Expansion through the 2015 legislative session without a repeal and thereby give Obamacare Medicaid Expansion supporters more time to promote and tweak Arkansas’ Obamacare Medicaid Expansion.
- Establish a task force that has as its first listed duty, finding a way to continue coverage to the Obamacare Medicaid Expansion population. Section 2 (d)(1)(A) of Hendren’s law says the task force is to: (A) Recommend an alternative healthcare coverage model and legislative framework to ensure the continued availability of healthcare services for vulnerable populations covered by the Health Care Independence Program established by the Health Care Independence Act of 2013, §§ 20-77-2401 et seq., upon program termination;
If you are going to try to protect a program wouldn’t you gain more respect, from both supporters and opponents, by just admitting your purpose, instead of inserting tortured language to pretend otherwise.
Do we really want Arkansas politicians to use the tactics of someone like Jonathan Gruber who said of Obamacare:
“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass… Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.” – Jonathan Gruber
Conduit for Action supports fiscally conservative legislation. CFA does not support deceptive legislation no matter who is the sponsor.