Monday, February 16, 2009

AR Paying Higher Percent of Income for Welfare Health Than Other States

The cigarette tax, according to the Governor, will fund 23 health programs in Arkansas with $178 million in 2010 combined state and federal funds. 1 (See the LONG list of welfare type health programs on DHS website already funded in Arkansas at this link. http://www.state.ar.us/dhs/sgFamily.html Note they can be accessed in Spanish as well as English.)

Arkansas, despite having the 2nd lowest per capita and median income in the nation, is already providing many health programs to people with higher incomes than other states are providing. In other words, Arkansans are paying a much higher percent of their income for welfare health programs than most other states. As you read the figures below, keep in mind that Arkansas's median income is $38,134 ($12,006 less than the national average of $50,740) 2

Arkansas is only one of 9 states that provides state funded prenatal care under the SCHIP program (it was the 7th state to do so). Based on federal government regulation, the state can legally and is providing prenatal benefits to illegal aliens, based on the idea that these children of illegal aliens will be citizens when they are born. 3

These prenatal benefits are provided to women with an income of 200% of federal poverty level or less, which equals $42,4000 (about $4,000 more than median income in Arkansas) for a family of four in 2008. (The national average for these programs is $133% of poverty level) 4 These benefits inlcude (A) Prenatal services (B) Delivery (C) Postpartum services for 60 days (D) Family planning services, including tubal ligations (E) Services for conditions that may complicate the pregnancy (in other words any health problem while they are pregnant.) 5

ARKIDS First Medicaid insurance is also one of the health programs to be expanded under the cigarette tax. The present eligibility requirement allows family up to 200% of federal poverty level to receive benefits, which is $42,4000 for a family of four. Governor Beebe's plan using the cigarette tax increase would expand the income level to 250% of poverty level (or $55,125 annual income). $55,125 is approximately $17,000 higher than median annual income in Arkansas) 6

There is a push in Arkansas to fund ARKIDS at 300% by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (founded by Hillary Clinton and one of the main liberal groups who threatened suit against the implementation of the ban on homosexuals the state adopted as a result of a ballot initiative). 7 This would essentially be universal health care for children, a major step toward universal health care for the nation. And what would that do to private insurance companies and the economy?

Arkansas is also one of twenty-seven states that asked for and received waivers to use Medicaid money for family planning (also at 200% federal poverty level - $42,400 for family of 4 ) 8 "Using an 1115 demonstration waiver, Arkansas was one of the first three states to expand Medicaid family planning services beyond the 60-day postpartum period." 9

ARKIDS and prenatal care are both aspects of SCHIP. SCHIP was designed for families earning too much to qualify for Medicaid. Created in 1997 by federal law under the Clintons in Washington, SCHIP is the largest expansion of public health insurance coverage since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. 10 Arkansas was one of the first states to voluntarily participate in these programs that are often referred to as socialist programs. They were just another way of getting Bill and Hillary's universal health care program through piecemeal after they couldn't get it past at the federal level. 11

The prenatal care plan was implemented by change in an administrative regulation in July 2004 by the Arkansas Department of Human Service (DHS) with no input from the legislature, the representatives of the citizens of Arkansas. 12 This procedure creates welfare health programs and grows government needs without representation of the people. Now the Governor needs a tax to sustain and expand their programs, and private enterprise is left out of the picture.

"Using an 1115 demonstration waiver, Arkansas was also one of the first states to expand Medicaid family planning services beyond the 60-day postpartum period." 13 Arkansas Medicaid provides family planning services to women with income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. ($42,400 for a family of four in 2008.) 14

Yet Arkansas has a lower median income than every state but Mississippi. 15 In other words the percent of money Arkansans are putting into welfare type programs is much higher than other states. (2006 figures) 15.

ARKIDS and Family Applications are provided in Spanish, and applications for ARKids and FAmily Services are also printed in Spanish. 16

Considering the money already being poured into health programs in Arkansas, is the expansion of these programs really needed, especially in the time of economic crisis? Is this really the best use of the money even if a cigarette tax was a good thing to do.

For documentation of these facts see the documentation at end of article at this link: http://www.wpaag.org/Leg%20-%2009%20AR%20paying%20more%20in%20health%20care%20than%20other%20states.htm

1 Comments:

Anonymous Chuck said...

Part of the problem is that government, in my view, has an interest in keeping its citizens healthy, and that begins in childhood, so state & federal govts. have an interest in keeping children healthy, so they can eventually become healthy adults; but, there is the compounding problem of parents abusing the system as well, i.e. unnecessarily taking kids to the doctor/ER, getting medicines they don't use or that are ineffective or unnecessary. When products and/or services are paid for by someone else, the demand for those products and/or services goes up proportionally, and then, as the law of supply & demand kicks in, the price of those products and/or services goes up. Our third-party payor system of health care is not only inefficient, it is also very inflationary. In which sector of our economy have prices gone up more than any other? Health care - hospital costs, prescription drug costs, etc.
What should happen is for people to be given incentive(s) to keep themselves & their kids healthy and out of dr's offices and hospitals; competition for customers would then drive prices down, or at least to reasonable levels. Health Savings Accounts are one way to do that; government should provide tax breaks to those who have HSAs to pay for health care, rather than the taxpayers footing the bill through an ever-expanding government bureaucracy. I don't have a problem with children receiving necessary health care services - they absolutely should; my problem lies in subsidizing those who won't take care of the kids or themselves, i.e. overeating, smoking, being couch potatoes, etc.

9:16 AM, February 17, 2009  

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