Gov. Asa Hutchinson has scheduled a town hall meeting from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 22 at Central Baptist College in Conway on his plan for continuing the Medicaid expansion enabled by the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
Hutchinson is hoping to continue the Obamacare expansion, which has provided insurance to a quarter of a million Arkansans. In addition to benefiting people, it provides the governor more than $100 million a year in federal money to pad the state budget and pay for his past tax cuts for wealthy Arkansans and perhaps future highway construction work. There is no to small increases in other state spending in the governor’s budget, including no pay raises next year for state employees.
The Medicaid expansion has been known as the private option. Hutchinson wants to add some requirements for beneficiaries to make it more palatable to opponents in the Republican Party and rename it Arkansas Works for marketing reasons, though it remains a significant federal expenditure enabled by the historic passage — over pitched Republican objections — of Obamacare. Asacare faces significant opposition from Republicans, perhaps enough to prevent the three-fourths approval generally deemed necessary for passage.