The open line last night invited votes on the meanest of the Terrible Ten Republican senators blocking continuation of the Obamacare-enabled Medicaid expansion that has put more than a quarter-of-a-million Arkansans on health insurance. Lots of comments and still more to me at my e-mail.
My own nominee was Terrible Ten Caucus leader, Sen. Bart Hester. He’s extortionate (threats to cut UA’s budget); he’s self-interested (see his bill to preserve unreasonably low taxes on his billboard property);he has a single-minded devotion to discrimination against LGBT people, now enshrined in law thanks to him.
But, how, a legislator asked me, could I overlook the Senate’s premier bully, Bryan King? Good point. His vitriol reportedly became so elevated at Hester’s caving last week to the Hutchinson administration vote charade to save Obamacare that his vituperation drove Hester out of a caucus room. Too ugly for Bart Hester? That’s ugly.
But let’s not forget Sen. Linda Collins-Smith of Pocahontas. My attention was called to an article in Friday’s Batesville Guard that’s illustrative. A local school principal called out Collins-Smith on Facebook for her opposition to the Medicaid expansion. Those cuts would filter down to schools, Charlotte Elementary Principal Susi Epperson wrote in urging phone cals to the senator.
She has let down the rural schools in our county & the school districts across the entire state. … Recognize who you represent. Independence County houses two school based health centers. And this vote cuts that funding.
Epperson said she’d been unable to get responses from Collins-Smith to her questions and criticized her, too, for not visiting the schools to see the importance of health centers. The article continued:
This was the exact Facebook response from Collins-Smith: “I’m disappointed in your comments. I have been in mtgs all day. Could not answer the phone or did I have time for social media. Everyday I retune calls and email until I go to bed. I make no apologies for going to supper or going my job. This is the Governors request. When falsely accused I will respond also. I will return calls in the order I received them. My cell is listed everywhere because I want my constituents to call. Thank you, Sen Collins-Smith 870-378-1434.”
She later added, “I am eating my meal and happened to start looking at emails, etc. Your demand and ugliness can wait if you want response otherwise I have to ignore you and that wasn’t my plan.”
But those wanting to use that number would find no response either and would be told the mailbox was full.
I can’t link the story directly. It’s informative. Epperson detailed all the damage that will be done across government should Collins-Smith and her cohorts succeed in wrecking the state budget. You can see it here and some related comments on this Facebook post.
A couple of other interesting comments were prompted by our Terrible Ten meanie vote:
* ON SEN. BART HESTER AND REP. JOSH MILLER: A reader wrote who’s known both since their childhoods. (Miller is the representative who is a firm opponent of Medicaid expansion despite his own reliance on it for initial medical care and continuing assistance after being paralyzed in a wreck on a joy ride.) The comment:
[Their] mindset and spiritual position is without an ounce of anything but total blind righteousness. Many other conservatives have financial or ego motivation. These people are another breed…. I see no hope for ever softening or balancing their position. But Josh Miller and his hypocrisy should win the prize.
* SEN. CECILE BLEDSOE: This comment came from a colleague of her son, Greg, the state surgeon general.
I know Dr. Greg Bledsoe, our state surgeon general and Cecile Bledsoe’s son. He’s an emergency physician – quite a good one, in fact. …
Based on his education & practice I’m certain that he “gets it” about how bad for patients anything is that would kick a bunch of people off of health insurance, effectively shifting their primary care to our already overcrowded (and neither trained nor equipped for primary care) emergency rooms. So I don’t know if his mom is mean or not, but unless they just don’t talk (or maybe don’t listen) to each other or he is a fundamentally different person when he’s in the Capitol than he is when he’s on duty in the ER (and I have trouble believing that), I don’t understand.