We have officially gone down the rabbit hole.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced today that he was “proud” to say Texas would not avail itself of the expansion of Medicaid provided to the working poor under federal health care legislation. He’ll give up $164 BILLION in federal money that would provide health care coverage for 1.2 million Texans.
Lest you think this is just another sign of Texas insanity, be aware that many cheerleaders for the Arkansas Republican legislative insurgency 1) proudly supported Perry’s presidential candidacy 2) are trumpeting via Twitter and other media the decision of Texas and others not to expand health coverage for their citizens and 3) have vowed to do all they can to block additional coverage of Arkansans, whether through low-cost health exchanges for private insurance or the Medicaid expansion to working adults. What’s worse is that these Arkansas Republicans think this is a popular political position. What’s worse still is that they might be right.
CASE IN POINT: Republican Sen. Michael Lamoureux, more reasonable than some of the GOP bomb throwers, is already Twittering madly that the Medicaid expansion is not sustainable in Arkansas and anyone who says otherwise is being hateful, not factual. The subject is under discussion at a legislative committee today.
Lamoureux uses the figure that the state would have to pay $200 million in 2019, when the state 10 percent match of Medicaid expansion is fully implemented. Sounds like all the money in the world, right?
Gross state revenue this year is $5.9 billion. We finished with a $145 million surplus. $200 million is 3.3 percent of $5.9 billion. But, we don’t owe that money now. The state must make no match of federal money for three years. What will state revenue growth show by 2019? Well, here’s a small indication. In in 2005, gross revenue was $4.7 billion. It rose 25 percent in 7 years. At the same growth rate, state revenue should hit about $7.5 billion by 2019, when a $200 million payment would be 2.6 percent of gross. And, by Lamoureux’s calculation, that $200 million would bring $1.8 BILLION in federal money. The $2 billion would provide health coverage for 250,000 or more Arkansans. But it would do more than provide health stability to working Arkansans (the expansion is mostly for working poor). That money would hire doctors, nurses, clinicians, nursing home employees and more. The money would turn over in the Arkansas economy multiple times, not only stimulating everyone but producing additional tax revenue.
Facts, not hate, Sen. Lamoureux