Talk Business reports on the election of Sen. Jim Hendren to lead the 22-member Republican caucus in the Senate.

Caucus discipline hasn’t been much of a problem for Republicans in the Senate. Hendren’s election is noteworthy because he’s been a resolute opponent of the private option expansion of Medicaid. At least he can read the news, which showed yesterday an enormous jump in Arkansans with insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion and health exchange subsidies.



Hendren said the news did not change his opinion that the program is financially unsustainable. However, he said opponents must consider the large number of Arkansans who now have health insurance because of it.

“We have this program, and I’m one who believes you’ve got to be fair with people,” he said. “So anything that’s done, we have to take into account the fact that we’ve got a lot of people in Arkansas who are playing by the rules and who are working hard, and to just yank that away from them without any consideration is not something that I think is the right thing to do. So we’re going to have to look at how we can find some middle ground, or find some sort of process that gets us to a program that’s more sustainable.”

Senate Republicans will try to craft a compromise or at least just take a vote and get past it, Hendren said. He said his goal will be to “not let that define us as a caucus.”

“We’re not going to let those differences and those different groups that we come from prevent us from being effective as a caucus,” he said. “We’re just not going to let that happen.”

This will require some over-my-dead-body Republicans to reverse campaign pledges. But who, besides the Tea Party, will remember that? That’s not a problem, right, Rep. Burris.


Seriously, Obamacare is working and could work even better if intransigent Republicans in Congress would do the small tweaks necessary to clear up a few points. Medical spending has stopped its runaway inflationary spiral. Some 200,000 Arkansans now have coverage who did not. Charity care at medical institutions has dropped. Pre-existing conditions don’t bar coverage. Families are held together by insurance. Preventive care is being encouraged. Arkansas has placed further incentives to produce economy (while also guaranteeing a profit windfall for the private insurance industry). What’s not to like? Except, of course, the dark-hued Kenyan Muslim who passed the historic achievement.