An Open Letter to the Arkansas Senate: Oppose the Medicaid Expansion Scheme


Dear Senator:


On behalf of National Taxpayers Union’s 362,000 members nationwide and nearly 3,200 members in Arkansas, I urge you to oppose Governor Beebe’s Medicaid expansion scheme, which would cripple state and federal budgets by making an additional 250,000 Arkansans reliant on government-provided health care.

As a result of the Supreme Court’s June 2012 “Obamacare” decision, states have the option to increase their participation in the failing Medicaid program, but Governor Beebe has crafted an even more costly plan that would expand Medicaid using health exchanges, where low-income Arkansans will receive health care provided by taxpayers. The Congressional Budget Office projects that Governor Beebe’s plan would increase the cost per enrollee of Medicaid expansion by 50 percent.

While many have encouraged lawmakers to accept the “free money” offered by the federal government, lawmakers should be wary of this illusion. Even though President Obama has promised that the federal government will pick up the entire tab for the first three years and 90 percent of the cost in the long term, he has already proposed a reduction in federal match rates starting in 2017. If major tax hikes are to be avoided at the state level in the near future, the methods of delivering health care to low-income individuals should be reformed to achieve cost savings.

This bill would also have disastrous effects at the federal level. A recent Kaiser report determined that full-scale Medicaid expansion will cost the federal government $800 billion between now and 2022. However, that money is not “free”: current and future Arkansas taxpayers would still have to bear part of this burden (and that of other state expansions) on their federal tax returns. Instead of increasing the size and reach of the federal government, state officials should seize this opportunity to rein in Washington’s dangerous spending habit.

Despite a different appearance from the health law’s Medicaid expansion, Governor Beebe’s scheme would be detrimental to both Arkansans and taxpayers across the country. Such a move would make Arkansas a co-owner of the federal government’s dramatically more intrusive role in the health care system and demonstrate true fiscal irresponsibility. Taxpayers are counting on your leadership on this issue.     

Lee Schalk
State Government Affairs Manager