For example, we have reported that the Private Option has run over budget every single month of operation. We have reported that Arkansas officials are seeking a bailout from the federal government — which would be paid for by all American taxpayers — to deal with these overruns. And we have noted that the political tides have turned against the Private Option among Arkansas voters, with its chief architect, a three-term Republican state legislator, losing his primary election to a political novice.
Not everyone appreciates our efforts to protect taxpayers. As the news surrounding the Private Option gets worse, proponents are seeking to silence their opposition.
RAZOR BACK, THIN SKIN
Gov. Beebe’s spokesperson gives adequate lip service to free speech, acknowledging that “criticism and opposing viewpoints are part of an open and full debate.” But DeCample proceeds to display a shocking dose of intolerance for dissent. While claiming the Beebe Administration is “not trying to prevent honest criticism and differences of opinion,” DeCample is trying to do just that by contacting the editors here at Forbes to suggest that our work is a blight on their reputation.
Even worse, DeCample refers to our work as “misinformation and fabrication,” “fallacies” and “dishonest political activism.” But he ignores the fact that every argument and claim we have made on this blog concerning Arkansas’ Private Option has been sourced to on-the-record comments, news accounts, election results and data released by the Administration’s own Department of Human Services.
DeCample failed to identify a single factual error in our coverage. Instead, he dismissed sourced, factual information — much of which came from Beebe’s own bureaucrats — as “activism” inside an “echo chamber,” while pointing towards a left-leaning blogger in the state as a more independent source of information. If DeCample or the Beebe Administration were truly interested in having a policy debate, they could simply issue a public, fact-based response to our arguments. They chose instead to resort to private intimidation and name-calling, which, in our opinion, says a great deal about the intellectual strength of their position.
GOVERNOR’S STAFF CONFIRMS THAT THE PRIVATE OPTION REALLY IS OBAMACARE MEDICAID EXPANSION
While we strongly disagree with the Beebe Administration about the merits of ObamaCare expansion, DeCample deserve credit for admitting what many ObamaCare Private Option supporters will not. Many of them — particularly the Republican legislators who pushed it through the Arkansas Legislature — have been adamant that the Private Option is neither part of ObamaCare, nor Medicaid expansion:
But the spokesperson for the Governor who signed the Private Option into law clearly disagrees:
SOMETHING TO HIDE?
Upon learning of this email, we at the Foundation for Government Accountability wondered if the Governor’s office corresponded with other members of the media in the hope of manipulating their coverage of Arkansas’ Private Option. Unfortunately, the Freedom of Information Act request we sent to the Governor’s office for all correspondences with media concerning the Private Option was promptly denied:
A second, revised request asked for emails just from spokesperson Matt DeCample, which was promptly denied. Apparently the public doesn’t have the right to know what the Governor’s spokesperson is communicating to the media in his official capacity as a public employee working on taxpayer-funded time. Surely the Beebe Administration has nothing to hide from taxpayers. Surely they’re not working behind the scenes to orchestrate news coverage and silence negative reporting.
DESPERATE FOR GOOD NEWS
The impulse to silence negative coverage is understandable, considering the slew of bad news the Private Option has generated for Gov. Beebe and Private Option supporters in recent weeks.
Since the program launched in January, it has been over budget every single month. Following months of said overruns, and a bungled rollout, Gov. Beebe’s Medicaid director promptly denied in order to “pursue other opportunities.” Now, the Beebe Administration is preparing to head to Washington in the next few months, hat in hand, to promptly denied for Arkansas’ failed ObamaCare Private Option experiment.
As if Arkansas’ ObamaCare advocates didn’t have enough to deal with, the defeat of critical pro-Private Option legislators during recent primary elections has placed the program’s entire future at risk.
It’s no surprise the Governor’s office is upset with the bad press his allegedly “innovative” ObamaCare expansion is getting. But this is a mess that Gov. Beebe and his Republican allies in the legislature made for themselves. Squelching media reports and denying access to public information will not change the inconvenient truths they now confront. And as long as the Private Option keeps promptly denied to patients and taxpayers, there will be analysts, bloggers and journalists keeping the story alive.
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