Saturday, April 02, 2011

Conservative Legislators Got "Took" on Insurance Funding


HB1258 provides authorization for the insurance department to set up "health care exchanges" in order to comply with the federal health care bill known as "Obamacare."

It only took 51 votes to pass this bill in the house, but in order to fund the set up of the exchanges they had to pass an appropriation bill. That requires 75 out of 100 votes. The Democrats had to entice some Republicans who were dead set against Obama care to somehow vote to fund it.

The "deal" they offered was to put an amendment on 1258 that said if Congress overturned Obamacare or the courts ruled against it then 1258 would not be implemented. In addition, they sent 1258 to interim study rather than passing it. That got the Republicans on board for the vote to fund the state insurance department's budget- including $1 million to fund setting up the exchanges should HB1258 get passed.

If the appropriation bill had not passed, it would have shut down the Arkansas Insurance Department. To some Republican legislators, this was so unacceptable that they took the deal- vote for the Obamacare funding, but send the authorizing legislation to an interim study. Gov. Beebe got his votes.

On our facebook group "Friends of the Tea Party" I tried to warn euphoric activists that the Republicans were suckered on this one. Here is how I explained it there...

"I am not at all convinced that we won a victory in the insurance-Obamacare battle. I believe the legislators are about to learn that once they appropriate money, money with no purpose attached to it, to an agency, especially one headed by a Jay Bradford, that they will lose control over what that money is spent on."

When one of the more hopeful freshman legislators (who is one of the good guys) mentioned that they would still have "legislative oversight" I answered....

I hope that a year to 18 months from now you can (gently) remind me that my fears were unfounded. My fear is that you are about to learn how little legislative oversight you have once men like Jay Bradford have the money. They are going to spend it to set up these exchanges, and they are not going to wait for "authorization" from you to do it.

Well, we only had to wait more like 18 hours to see that my fears were well-founded. Listen to the 1st 20 seconds of the above video of Beebe. He is asked about a "deal" made in the funding of the insurance exchanges. He says "there is no deal as far as I am concerned." He also says "I told them no to any deal." He has the money, and he is going to implement it anyway.

Now that they have the funding, it will be an easy matter for them to call a special session and vote through the bill they just sent to "interim study". They need only a majority vote. Even that may not be needed, if you watch the rest of the video Beebe thinks he may have the authority to do this by executive order, but is not sure yet.

We are living in times where it may be necessary to shut down the entire federal government in the short term in order to force the spending cuts necessary to save it in the long term. In that environment, state house republicans should have had the grit to be willing to shut down one state department for a while until they agreed to strip the state Obamacare funding from the budget. Some of those fooled were freshmen. Let's hope they learn the expensive lesson....

In the Arkansas Legislature, don't "deal" with the bad guys, defund them.

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