Townhall: Medicaid expansion is (still) not saving Arkansas hospitals

In 2013, the Arkansas legislature voted to expand Medicaid to able-bodied, childless adults through ObamaCare. One of the primary motivations behind this decision—if not the primary factor—was the hope that expansion would save hospitals from certain demise. But after nearly six full years of expansion and hundreds of thousands of able-bodied adults added to welfare, Arkansas’ hospitals are still struggling—and many of them have closed.

This comes as no surprise to those of us who can plainly see that expanding welfare doesn’t create jobs or bolster economic activity. (Indeed, it does quite the opposite.) But still, these hospital closures simply cannot be overlooked, especially as more states consider whether or not to bring this same nightmare home.

Just this week, news reports out of Arkansas classified the health of the state’s hospitals as “condition critical.” Continue reading

Townhall: Arkansas is debunking myths about welfare reform

Almost exactly one year ago, Arkansas became the first state to ever implement commonsense work requirements for able-bodied, working-age adults on Medicaid—and the far Left freaked out.

Since that time, they’ve proceeded to outright slander the state, falsely asserting that the requirement would leave the state worse off, hurt Arkansans, and was nothing more than a “reporting requirement” designed to confuse enrollees with paperwork rather than help them find a job. They’ve waged an all-out war on work, even using the courts to try to (temporarily) thwart the will of Arkansans, who overwhelmingly support the requirement—Republicans and Democrats alike.

They’ve gone all out for a few big reasons: they want as much dependency as possible. They think a life-long welfare check is better for Americans than a paycheck. And they also know that Medicaid work requirements are a signature achievement of President Trump’s first term.

If they can stop Arkansas, they think they can stop work requirements from spreading to other states, increase dependency, and deal a blow to President Trump at the same time. For the far Left, it’s a win-win-win.

But there’s bad news for them: from Day One, they’ve been wrong about Arkansas’ commonsense welfare reform, and a new study from the Foundation from Government Accountability proves it. Continue reading

Townhall: Work requirements are working in Arkansas

Today, the food stamp program is one of the largest welfare programs in the federal budget. And of the nearly 40 million people enrolled, 20 million of them are able-bodied adults. This surging enrollment has led to record-high spending, topping out at nearly $80 billion just a few years ago.

The good news is that there’s a proven way to reduce dependency and improve lives at the same time: work requirements. And one state is showing once again just how effective work requirements can be, as detailed in a brand new study from the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA).

In 2015, as one of his first major policy moves as governor, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson instructed his welfare agency to let the state’s work requirement waiver expire. Under federal law, able-bodied adults without dependents are expected to work, train, or volunteer at least part-time if they want to receive food stamps. But until Governor Hutchinson took office, Arkansas had never enforced this requirement statewide.

Starting in January 2016, that changed. Able-bodied, childless adults would be expected to work part-time if they wanted to stay on food stamps. Here’s what happened. Continue reading

Let’s Get Real: Arkansas’ Work Requirements Reporting Rules Are Anything But Onerous

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In June, Arkansas became the first state to ever implement a work requirement in Medicaid, after winning approval for the reform from the Trump administration in March. This speedy implementation—and pursuit of the work requirement in the first place—was, arguably, the most significant policy achievement of Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s tenure. And the implementation wasn’t just swift—it was methodical and thoughtful as well, and the Hutchinson administration has bent over backwards to make compliance as simple as possible, giving more able-bodied Arkansans a path out of the welfare trap.

Yet advocates of perpetual welfare dependency have been apoplectic, even filing a lawsuit to move Arkansas backwards. They claim that reporting work is too complex and onerous for Medicaid enrollees to possibly understand. In addition to being incredibly condescending, this claim couldn’t be further from the truth. Continue reading

Townhall: The Welfare Fraud Pandemic & One Way to Fix it

It may not make the news every day, but welfare fraud is a serious problem – not only because of its volume, but also because of its impact on the truly needy. On the front end of welfare enrollment, lax eligibility verification by states has resulted in an unknown number of individuals signing up for benefits they don’t actually qualify for. And within the program itself, infrequent and insufficient monitoring has resulted in potentially millions of enrollees staying in the program longer than they should.

Enter: the welfare walking dead.

Across the country, thousands of deceased individuals have been found on state welfare rolls. And what might sound like a late-night punchline or a topic for a new AMC mini-series is a serious problem. This type of fraud, although easily preventable, steals limited resources from truly needy individuals who depend on the safety net to survive. Continue reading

Townhall: For States, ObamaCare’s Day of Reckoning Is Here

meaningful-use-of-obamacareIt’s officially 2017. A new year, full of new beginnings and opportunities. But for taxpayers and the truly vulnerable in ObamaCare expansion states, it’s the continuation (and acceleration) of a nightmare. As of January 1, states are on the hook for 5 percent of the expansion’s costs. And with more enrollees than states expected to ever enroll, this fiscal nightmare will be even worse than expected, putting taxpayers and the truly needy at even greater risk. Continue reading

Townhall: AR’s “Private Option” Is A More Expensive Way to Expand ObamaCare

health-care-costs-660x400Experts have long raised questions about the budget gimmickry involved in the Obama administration’s approval of Arkansas’ Obamacare expansion waiver. The Government Accountability Office even warned that the administration and Arkansas cooked the books to secure the waiver. But now, the state’s own evaluation of the program – spearheaded by one of the program’s architects – shows just how badly Arkansas got it wrong. Continue reading

Townhall: AR Wants To Give ObamaCare Welfare For People Who Already Have Insurance

Arkansas’ Obamacare expansion, commonly known as the “Private Option,” has been a nightmare. Costs have run significantly over budget and the truly needy are being pushed to the back of the line. The Government Accountability Office reported that Arkansas’ approach was simply a more expensive way to expand Obamacare. And, surprise, the promised economic stimulus from expansion never materialized.

The program has proven wildly unaffordable for taxpayers and has become a political landmine for state legislators. Facing mounting cost overruns and serious questions about long-term sustainability, the legislature and governor agreed last year to terminate the expansion at the end of 2016.

But now Governor Asa Hutchinson has decided that the state desperately needs to keep Obamacare expansion and has called a special session that will begin April 6th to extend it. Hutchinson’s plan will also make cosmetic tweaks to the expansion and give the program a new, Orwellian name: “Arkansas Works.”

One of the key bugs, errr, “features” of this new plan is to begin utilizing employer-sponsored health insurance plans for Medicaid expansion enrollees. But there are several elements of this proposal that are cause for serious concern. Continue reading

Townhall: Where Are All The ObamaCare Jobs?

For years, hospital lobbyists have promised that Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion would kick start states’ economies and produce thousands of new jobs. (Expanding welfare always stimulates the economy, right?)

This piece of their Obamacare sales pitch is critical because, according to their calculations, these new jobs will generate the necessary revenue to pay for states’ share of the Obamacare expansion costs. The Arkansas Hospital Association, for example, made a similar guarantee, promising that most of the state’s share would be covered by new tax revenue generated by new jobs.

But now that expansion has been up-and-running for more than two years, the data is starting to paint a clearer picture of the real economic impact. And, believe it or not, Obamacare expansion isn’t living up to the hype. Continue reading

Townhall: No, Arkansas’ Obamacare Expansion Isn’t Saving Taxpayers Money

According to state law, Arkansas’ failed Obamacare expansion is set to expire at the end of this year. But Governor Asa Hutchinson has proposed overriding that deadline – which he signed into law last year – to continue providing welfare to able-bodied adults forever.

Hutchinson’s chief argument is that ending the program would create “a $100 million annual budget hole” due to lost budget “savings.” It’s a familiar refrain, used by former Democratic Governor Mike Beebe for years. There’s just one problem: it’s not true.

Arkansas’ so-called Private Option Medicaid expansion isn’t saving taxpayers money and allowing it to end won’t necessitate a massive tax increase or trigger the zombie apocalypse. In fact, allowing expansion to sunset would save taxpayers billions of dollars. Continue reading