Sonny Albarado reports for the Arkansas Advocate that Governor Hutchinson has joined other Republican governors in a letter asking President Biden to end the federal public health emergency declared in response to the COVID crisis.
The declaration is set to expire Jan. 11, but the governors say they expect it to be extended until April.
The governors say the emergency allows poor people to continue to receive Medicaid benefits even if no longer eligible and this is costly to the states.
Inconvenient facts in the case of Arkansas:
The feds pay almost 80% of Medicaid costs. The program serves the poor and disabled. Becoming “ineligible” can mean a negligible increase in income in some cases. The Medicaid expansion in Arkansas was a big moneymaker for the state, thanks to the premium tax on the “private option” version of Obamacare that Arkansas adopted along with the economic impact of all those dollars. Arkansas has managed to pile up billions — with a B — in surplus, reserve, emergency and other money hidey holes while providing windfall income tax cuts to millionaires. The Medicaid money pays doctors, nurses, therapists, hospitals, clinics, drivers and all manner of people who pump that money back into the economy. Oh, and incidentally, the care extends a little comfort to the needy and prevents worsening health, even death. Nonetheless, the state is itching to drop 400,000 human beings from Medicaid support if the emergency is ended. This while there’s a waiting list for home services for the disabled and an unending variety of state initiatives aimed at trimming Medicaid rolls. Remember Arkansas Works?