Day four of the legislative fight over funding Medicaid Expansion via the “Private Option” in Arkansas saw House Speaker Davy Carter call another vote – and for the fourth time in a row, the House of Representatives failed to gain the 75 votes it needs to pass the appropriation. 

Armed with a flawed and biased study from the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce and tax preparation firm Jackson-Hewitt, Speaker Carter and Private Option proponents have repeatedly forced votes in an attempt to badger legislators into accepting a massive and unaffordable expansion of the entitlement program.  Writing in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and The Federalist, I have repeatedly pointed out serious issues with the metrics of the Jackson-Hewitt study – including the base assumption that without Medicaid Expansion, no Arkansas businesses will cover employees falling into Obamacare’s Medicaid gap:

In defense of the Private Option, the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce released a study by the tax-prep firm Jackson-Hewitt claiming that without Medicaid Expansion, Arkansas businesses would see a tax increase between $27 and $40 million. Already, the study has been exposed as little more than fear mongering.

First, the base assumption of the study is that no employer in the state would provide insurance coverage to an employee who would qualify for Medicaid if expansion were to occur – yes, it assumes zero, zilch, none. That is a wildly irresponsible assumption. Why not assume that businesses would cover 100 percent of qualifying employees?

Even more troubling is this post from the Advance Arkansas Institute noting the detrimental impact the Private Option will have on Arkansas hospitals.

During today’s vote, a legislator fled the House floor, prompting Speaker Carter to call on the State Police to find and return the lawmaker to the legislative chamber – the move prompted some observers to note that the move was akin to Kevin Spacey’s character, Frank Underwood, on the television show House of Cards. Perhaps the better comparison is with a Dread Pirate. It has become apparent that Speaker Carter will continue to force votes until the 75 “yea” votes needed materialize – a strategy akin to saying, “The floggings will continue until morale improves.” Dread Pirate Davy Carter, maybe that moniker will stick. When “no” vote lawmakers are summoned to the Speakers Office they may feel like they are being summoned to Dread Pirate Davy Carter’s “locker.”

At this juncture, the battle over the Arkansas Private Option continues and it appears that tomorrow there will be yet again another vote (number 5 in the House) on funding the unaffordable entitlement expansion.