HESTER: His low-income constituents eligible for the private option chose their lot in life, he says, so the government shouldn't help them.

I wanted to quickly revisit Max’s note this morning on Sen. Bart Hester, and his email exchange with a constituent whose father has coverage under the private option, coverage he would lose if Hester and his allies are successful in blocking the appropriation. Hester was unsympathetic. Read the whole exchange here.

This bit is worth highlighting: 


By working poor you mean a family of 4 making $94,000 per year. That’s is [sic] the definition of working poor according by PO and ACA.

If you are unemployed in dist1 in AR and you are an able bodied adult then I 100% say it is by your choice.  

Now, we should note that Hester is conflating two different things (a common approach for private option opponents), and the private option actually only covers people below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which is around $32,500 for a family of four (or a little less than $16,000 a year for an individual).

But that aside I think Hester’s comments here are helpful in contrast to the misleading claims we fisked in Rep. Joe Farrer‘s Talk Business piece on the private option, which was indicative of the hodge-podge of see-what-sticks, semi-coherent arguments against expanding health coverage we’ve seen from private option opponents over the past several months. 


Hester is blunt, and perfectly coherent. He doesn’t want the government helping folks who are out of work with healthcare. People in his district who don’t have a job, he writes, 100 percent chose to be unemployed. Of course, many people who qualify for the private option do work, but Hester doesn’t think they should get help with their healthcare either. 

If you believe that poor people are poor by choice, it follows that you might not like the idea of social safety-net programs for the poor. If poverty is a lifestyle choice, lack of healthcare is just part of the lifestyle. 


Opponents of the private option are rarely so direct about their reasoning.