Saturday, 26 March 2016 00:00

Arkansas Republican Governor Begs Legislature to Keep Medicaid Expansion

Written by Chris Reeves | Daily Kos

Asa Hutchinson could never be considered a moderate Republican. A strong anti-choice, anti-social issues Republican, Hutchinson was elected to serve as Arkansas governor 2 years ago with a strong win, 55%, in part due to his opposition to President Obama.

Today in Little Rock, Asa Hutchinson is reversing track, though, and telling his Republican legislators they need to reconsider and keep a success of the previous Democratic governor Mike Beebee. That success? The expansion of Medicaid.

"I did not want to punish Arkansas simply to make a political point," Hutchinson told The Associated Press as the Legislature prepares to return to session next month to take up Medicaid's future.


"It would hurt Arkansas to say we're going to allow Washington to take all this money out of the state," he said, considering it would end "health care coverage for the 200,000 plus that's on that Medicaid expansion."

Hutchinson had ducked the question during his election run, saying he didn’t know enough about the impact and would study it. After getting the results of the study,  he made his conclusion: the state of Arkansas couldn’t afford to turn away the funding.

With Arkansas reporting more than 250,000 residents as participants in the medicaid expansion plan in the state, Governor Hutchinson has warned Republicans in the state house that it would be “turmoil” to overturn the program.

While Hutchinson speaks about the need to avoid turmoil, party members in his own state contend that more turmoil is desirable as they are seeking to overturn medicaid expansion — and are willing to send mail and attack fellow Republicans over it.

Representative Donnie Copeland (R- House District 38, Little Rock) , made it a major issue sending out mail in his race this year — a primary fight with GOP member Jane English (R-Sen. District 38, Little Rock), who voted in favor of expansion.

Copeland regularly hammers English over the vote, with one mailer saying she "sold us out and voted 'yes' on Obamacare Medicaid expansion." English has called the attacks misleading and describes the challenge as an attempt by outside groups to influence her district.

How did it work out? While Democrats and Republicans focused on the presidential race in the state, downballot primaries in Arkansas were close — but in the end, labeling someone as supporting medicaid expansion wasn’t enough to earn a win in a state primary race.

Representative Donnie Copeland (REP) 6,370 48.76%

Senator Jane English (REP) 6,693 51.24%

With primaries behind them, Hutchinson is spending his day again warning the legislative body to not consider “turmoil” or “chaos”.

Statehouse Republicans, however, seem determined to force a fight, believing that they have the votes to remove Arkansas from medicaid expansion.

Now, the only question that remains is whether or not Asa Hutchinson’s conservative credentials and bully pulpit will be enough. Arkansas Republicans, though, may be taking their orders from another state conservative, AFP-Arkansas State Director David Ray

Link to original article from DailyKos

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