Taxing Food To Pay For Obamacare Medicaid Expansion?

The discussion now taking place in the state of Utah will soon be the discussion in Arkansas! How to pay for the state share of Obamacare Medicaid Expansion? In Arkansas this Obamacare program is currently called the “Private Option.”

6629120915_556a318093_bThe Salt Lake Tribune says the Utah Hospital Association has proposed bringing back the tax on food in order to pay Utah’s share of Medicaid Expansion. Like Arkansas, Utah recently cut its sales tax rate on food. Although Greg Bell the CEO of the Utah Hospital Association says there has not been receptivity to the idea, the Tribune says some Utah legislators are floating the idea.

Utah is trying to come up with an estimated $78 million to pay Utah’s share of a Medicaid expansion covering 126,500 people.  Arkansas has a much larger program than Utah, covering approximately 250,000 people.  (Medicaid Expansion primarily serves able bodied working age adults with no children and about 40% of the eligible enrollees do not work at all.)

A group of Utah legislators called the “Gang of Six” have a different funding proposal. They are “trying to get providers like the doctors and hospitals to agree to bear most of the costs of the expanded coverage.” It would be ironic if Arkansas followed this approach, because Arkansas Obamacare supporters were able to drum up support by claiming Medicaid Expansion would save hospitals – a claim that appears unsubstantiated, other than to show the program provides additional revenue to hospitals.

The Utah hospitals see Obamacare Medicaid Expansion as such a good deal for them that they are already willing to pay $25 million of the $78 million cost.

Bell, who was Herbert’s lieutenant governor, said the hospitals have agreed to pay $25 million of the cost, but there are concerns about what happens if enrollment in the program — and the costs associated with it — are higher than expected.

“We would rather it be a dollar amount and then have a safety valve that it expands 15 percent, but once it’s greater than 15 or 20 percent, then you have to, ‘Come and let us reason together,’ and decide, are we going to keep doing this or scale it back?” Bell said.[i]

When Arkansas gets to the funding stage, do you think Arkansas taxpayers will be on the losing end of the business deal?

Finding a way to fund Medicaid Expansion is likely to produce many ideas, painful ideas.  Maybe even some wild-eyed ideas like the letter to the editor in Utah that proposed funding the program by imposing a gun registration fees and requiring gun owners to have insurance, which would also be taxed.[ii]  The question is: What crazy ideas will come up in Arkansas.

Arkansas’ governor and legislature appear to be on the verge of tweaking and continuing Obamacare Medicaid Expansion. Before the legislature passes a law to continue Medicaid Expansion, don’t you think they should tell us what services they are going to cut or what taxes they will raise to support the liberal big government program?