RIPS GOVERNOR: Democratic Chair Michael John Gray.

Rep. Michael John Gray, state Democratic Party chair, has issued a statement critical of Gov. Asa Hutchinson for Tuesday’s endorsement of the Graham-Cassidy proposal to repeal Obamacare. Gray said it would be “devastating” to the state.

Hutchinson claimed yesterday — counter to multiple other analyses — that the legislation wouldn’t harm Arkansas financially, despite estimates of a loss against the Affordable Care Act of more than $1 billion in 2026 alone. Hutchinson touted the flexibility of the block grant proposal.

Gray disagreed:

“I give credit where credit is due. I commended the leadership Governor Hutchinson showed in the past on the health care issue when he worked with both sides to continue Medicaid Expansion under the new name “Arkansas Works.” The Governor’s past leadership on this issue only underscores how disappointing it is that he is willing to embroil himself in such a desperate, extremely-partisan legislative Hail Mary that would end Medicaid Expansion in Arkansas as we know it.

“This is an about-face from Governor Hutchinson who as recently as July implored leaders from both parties to come together to work deliberatively towards strengthening the Affordable Care Act and in turn “Arkansas Works.” Even yesterday, he admitted that Arkansas Works remains in a “good position” if the Graham-Cassidy bill fails. On that point, we agree whole-heartedly. But, the facts simply don’t line up with the promises Governor Hutchison made yesterday about the legislation.

“The American Medical Association, the group that represents the vast majority of our doctors in America, said this legislation violates their golden rule of ‘first, do no harm.’

“James L. Madara, the group’s CEO, elaborated, ‘We believe the Graham-Cassidy Amendment would result in millions of Americans losing their health insurance coverage, destabilize health insurance markets, and decrease access to affordable coverage and care.’

“I urge Governor Hutchinson to reconsider his support for the Cassidy-Graham health care bill and return to his previous stance in support of bipartisan reforms to improve our health care system.

“I can promise you that if this legislation passes, it will be devastating to Arkansas. That is the truth.”

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