A friend and I were talking about how the Governor, and even his main spokespeople, hardly ever seem to get asked hard questions by the media. Further, the most superficial non-answers are routinely taken at face value without follow up. Compare this to the belligerent hectoring that President Trump or his spokespeople get from the media. So I thought “what if I could ask the Governor or his spokesman three questions?” What would I ask him?
So here are the three questions I would want to ask the Governor, or let’s say his spokesman since not even my fertile imagination can see a situation where the Governor would submit to my questions…..
#1) The set up: First I would slap this article on the table from last month where the Governor touts $175 million in cuts to Medicaid. Beside it I would lay down this article from earlier this month which says that Medicaid spending overall is way up.
Here is my article with the background that puts these two together…. https://www.arneighbors.org/medicaid-spending-up-despite-cuts-to-disabled/
The bottom line is that under the perverse incentives of the Obamacare Medicaid program the FEDS pay more for states giving healthcare to able-bodied adults than traditional Medicaid gives to blind people, autistic people, people without arms and legs- the truly disabled. Because of that Hutchinson is slashing the budget of everyone who gets traditional Medicaid to pay for keeping Obama’s Medicaid expansion for able-bodied adults.
So my first question to the spokesman would be…
Here is an article from last month where the Governor touted $175 million dollars in CUTS to Medicaid. Here is an article from this month that says that due to surging expansion in the new Medicaid from Obamacare the state’s spending for Medicaid is way UP. Behind the numbers is this reality- we have two Medicaid programs in Arkansas – there is the traditional one that helps blind people, autistic people, paraplegics, people who are truly disabled. That is the one the Governor is slashing. The other Medicaid program is the one for able-bodied adults under Obamacare, which the Governor relabeled “Arkansas Works”. That is the one where spending is exploding.
My question concerns the Governor’s moral priorities: Do you think the voters of this great state approve of the Governor’s slashing the care budgets for the truly needy in order to provide more money trying to save Obamacare Medicaid for the able-bodied?
Now I expect him to answer in part by saying that the Governor is working to reduce costs in both areas because he is shifting people from 100%- to 138% of FPL from Obamacare Medicaid to the Obamacare Exchange. When he does I would come back with…..
What you are touting as some kind of solution is no solution at all- it is the start of the next crisis. I have three things to say about that. First of all, Senator Bryan King and others tried to warn the Governor that the numbers and the budget would swell if we kept Obamacare Medicaid and he was totally blown off- so now that the Governor admits the same thing about the numbers the decent thing for him to do, and you can do it right now for him, is apologize to Senator King for dismissing his fair warning. Secondly those people are not getting off welfare by moving to the exchange, the taxpayers are still getting stiffed by this move it just comes from a different program. Or they would be if not for my Third point, President Trump just signed an executive order defunding that program. He did it because it had been funded illegally all along. Congress never appropriated the money, Obama just spent it anyway. Donald Trump just put an end to that.
The mechanics are too complicated to describe here, but the impact is likely to be that a single person who makes over 250% of the FPL, $37,650, is liable to see a huge rate increase to pay for subsidies for those that the Governor is now adding to the exchange. He is playing fiscal whack a mole. He is not solving anything because he is not facing the real problem- we need to end Obamacare in Arkansas, it has a lot of crazy rules that result in a lot of crazy outcomes. It is dragging us to fiscal destruction and pushing people in wheel chairs off the health-care cliff first is not going to change that….
#2) My second question has to do with the appearance of impropriety with a sitting senator, David Sanders (R) Little Rock, working for a non-profit funded by state grants…..
“My next question has to do with both crony capitalism and the Governor’s approval of something that appears improper regarding a member of the legislature. So Arkansas has an economic development commission which is a nice sounding name but unfortunately in practice it can wind up being the rich taxing the poor to fund a grant to the buddy of some insiders. I don’t approve of taxing my neighbor so the state can give it to an insider to open a business which competes with his. We should not even have it, but we have it, and it turns out that since 2008 that commission has been giving tax dollars to someone called “Innovate Arkansas” and letting them hand out the money. Now State Senator David Sanders (R) Little Rock, just took a job running “Innovate Arkansas”. So here is a legislator who votes on how much money to give the Commission and that commission then decides how much money to give to “Innovate Arkansas” which he directs.
Now we used to complain about the “revolving door” between legislators and entities which get money from the government. The legislators would appropriate money for an organization and later that organization wold hire the legislator. But this is even more unseemly. This is like quantum physics where the guy offering the bribe and the guy taking the bribe are the same person- Sanders is on both sides of the “revolving door” at the same time! He can actually vote to fund something so it can fund an entity which pays him! It seems to me that this is a new level of impropriety in state government, why did the Governor approve of this shady move?
#3) This question is about his award of a DHS Info Tech contract to the highest bidder.. https://www.arneighbors.org/red-flags-galore-in-awarding-contract-to-highest-bidder/
In 2015 Senator Bryan King called Arkansas Works/the Private Option a “scam” because the state was signing up everyone they could and were very slow to do eligibility checks since the FEDS were just making monthly payments for every person signed up. When they were finally forced to verify eligibility it turned out that there were people on the program that were dead, people from every state in the union were enrolled in Arkansas Works, people who had gone back home to Mexico, people who had long ago found jobs that had health care. So they were finally purged from the rolls but tons of payments were made to Arkansas insurers by FEDGOV on the basis that they were covering these ineligible people. Now we learn that after twenty years of using the same vendor for DHS Information Technology, the Governor directed that a new vendor which bid about twenty million dollars HIGHER be given the contract.
Now it just looks pretty bad when DHS is in a situation where the FEDS could ask to do an audit and try to find out how much they overpaid and suddenly after twenty years we just have to have a new information technology vendor even though it costs a lot more and even though the Senate committee never approved the switch. My question is what steps are you taking to make sure that the records that the feds would need to claw back these over payments are not lost in the transition to the new vendor?
I don’t expect the Governor or his spokesman will ever be asked any of these questions by the MSM in this state, so compliant and docile have them become. As always in this country, we have this mess because we don’t care enough to do anything to change it and care more about making excuses for whatever political party we ID with than actually reverting to self-government. If you are ready to really do something about it I encourage you to do this..