Thursday, April 14, 2016

“Arkansas Works” Fails The Needy and Taxpayers

State Senator Linda Collins-Smith
by Arkansas State Sen. Linda Collins-Smith: As a State Senator who campaigned for office and was elected on a promise to oppose Obamacare's Medicaid expansion in Arkansas, I was truly disappointed to see Governor Asa Hutchinson embrace the policy that began three years ago under Governor Beebe. In just a short time, Obamacare's Medicaid expansion has already led to larger than expected enrollments, higher than expected costs, and burdened future generations with billions of dollars in additional debt.

The people of Arkansas have spoken loudly and repeatedly on this issue: they don’t want any part of Obamacare or its Medicaid expansion. But Governor Hutchinson isn’t listening and now has reframed the failed program into the new but not improved “Arkansas Works.”

On April 7th, I was one of ten State Senators that voted against this program. It is wrong for Arkansas taxpayers and puts our state’s most needy at risk. In fact, expansion supporters, including the governor, are now proposing cutting funding for foster children and the elderly if they don’t get their way.

Arkansas Works will do lasting damage to our state – not only to our taxpayers but also to the enrollees themselves by trapping them in a new welfare program.

This plan would put able-bodied adults that already have insurance on Medicaid. Instead of paying their own way as they have been, taxpayers will now pickup the tab. Myself and my conservative colleagues cannot support this massive redistribution of wealth, especially while we have nearly 3,000 Arkansans with disabilities on waiting lists. Why should adultswho already have insurance take priority over the disabled, many of whom are children?

Our Medicaid program as a whole is already at a breaking point. We have already enrolled more people in our Medicaid expansion than the Beebe administration said would ever enroll or be eligible. As of last June, a report from the federal government showed that 41 percent of Arkansans are now on Medicaid. This is simply unsustainable.

But Arkansas Works would make this problem even worse – by giving Medicaid welfare to adults who already have insurance, the Foundation for Government Accountability estimates up to 80,000 new adults could enroll in our Medicaid expansion.
I cannot and will not support policies that increase dependency on government and saddle our kids with even more debt. Isn’t $20 trillion of national debt enough?

While we are currently gridlocked over funding for the program, this gridlock is by choice. Expansion supporters, including our current senate president Jonathan Dismang, have repeatedly promised that they would separate the expansion funding from the rest of the DHS budget so the truly needy can continue to get the services they need.

I’m calling on Senator Dismang to keep his word and separate the Obamacare funding from the DHS budget. We should not be forced to vote for Obamacare or against the truly needy.

My conservative colleagues and I in the senate will continue to stand strong against this massive welfare expansion that puts the needy and our children at risk.

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