Saturday, April 18, 2015

Is Arkansas' Ruling Class Involved in Massive Welfare Fraud?

"It's a scam." concluded Arkansas State Senator Bryan King (R) of Green Forrest when discussing Arkansas' recent Medicaid expansion under the so-called "Private" Option. King was recently featured in a Forbes article discussing the lack of eligibility verification, in violation of federal law, for participants in the program. King is the one who calmly laid out the numbers explaining why the costs of the "Private" Option are going to eat up virtually all projected growth in future state budgets and tie the hands of future legislators, leading to a fiscal train wreck in five years. His reward for actually looking at the numbers was to be removed as chairman of the joint budget committee, I presume so that the looting could continue without a lot of pesky questions.
It really does not matter whether you like the idea of expanding Medicaid or hate it.  It does not matter whether you want to help the poor, or want to eat the poor.   The fiscal reality is, neither the state nor the nation has the money to pay for it, promises to the contrary not-withstanding.   A person who says "we can't afford this" is not a heartless person, they are a realistic person.   They are a grown-up in a landscape of perpetual adolescents who think prices are evil and only exist to keep people from getting things.
What is really going on with this program is a perfect example of what Charles Hughes-Smith has been talking about, where the middle class and the upper middle class are being looted by an alliance between the political class (and the very rich who fund them) and the lower class. Since much of it is being paid for by debt via generational looting, the real bill will come due in their children and grandchildren's days.
In this case, the big players in Arkansas health insurance get a cut when someone signs up for the private option. The owners of the hospitals get a cut when those people come in for care. Hence the insurance and medical care lobbies favor the program. Those who own significant shares in companies in those markets tend to favor those programs. They are willing to give money to politicians who vote for those programs, thus benefiting the political class. DHS benefits when they "grow" the number of people in this program. Every time someone new is added to the program, eligible or not, all of these interests benefit from borrowing money against the credit of the children and grandchildren of today's middle and upper middle classes. It is the very top and the political class strip-mining the wealth of the middle by making a deal to expand welfare benefits to the lower classes.
But we are not here to cast blame on poor people who are in a desperate situation for health care and take what is offered them. Indeed, while individuals in this group may be committing welfare fraud by entering or staying on the program when they are not eligible for it, even those people don't have an incentive to look the other way when more and more ineligible people are enrolled in the program. The other interests I mentioned do have such an incentive. The more people on the rolls, eligible or not, the more money or power they get. They have an incentive to sign up everyone possible, eligible or not, and basically encourage welfare fraud by empowering a system which neglects to perform mandatory eligibility screening. This is what the Senator was referring to, particularly with respect to government officials, when he called the "Private" Option a "scam."
What about the rest of that list? Are various members of what might be called our ruling class encouraging welfare fraud as part of an effort to maximize their profits? Are they scam artists? Well, the Forbes article paints a very bleak picture of the screening process for this handout. It is consistent with the idea that since the (borrowed) money is presently all coming from Washington, they are just signing up everyone they can, eligible or not, so that they can get some of that "free" money that our children will be expected to pay back.
In addition, Wallet Hub has rated Arkansas dead last in the nation when it comes to return in government services for tax dollars spent. That is a sign that our ruling class is more rapacious than the ruling class of other states when it comes to skimming dollars off of government programs for their own benefit. Plus the "Private" Option has had consistent cost over-runs, because of course you can't have Medicaid Expansion with private insurance companies taking a cut for standing in the middle as cheaply as you can just have Medicaid expansion.
All of this circumstantial evidence and more point to an attitude of "Washington is handing out free money, let's go get as much of it as we can any way possible for as long as it lasts" in the ruling class of our state. I mean legislators, Governors, High-level bureaucrats, and certain Big Business interests. This attitude disregards then underlying long term costs or ethics or morality of the cash-grab.
The solution to such a wretched state of affairs is an old-fashioned word that is much out of favor in a post-truth age: repentance. The ruling class of this state, those that may be participating in this particular legalized theft, should repent of their deeds. Those of us who have been sitting on the sidelines letting them do this ought to repent of our complacency and inaction. The alternative is for the looting to continue until the middle and upper middle class in this state has been preyed upon to extinction, and the loot gained thereby enjoyed by each member of the ruling class for perhaps thirty years or so until at last the day comes that they have to explain their actions before a Righteous God.

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