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The Arkansas Medicaid expansion waiver, the plan to privatize Medicaid expansion dollars by allowing them to be used to purchase private insurance on the state exchange, has been approved by the legislature.

Ezra Klein picked up the most ridiculous part of the legislation crafted by Arkansas Republicans: Anyone receiving the Medicaid subsidy for their insurance will have to "affirmatively acknowledge" that the subsidy is not an entitlement. Even though it is.

I called Arkansas State Sen. Jonathan Dismang, a sponsor of this bill, to ask him to explain this provision to me.

“The point of this language is to ensure that the individual does not think he has a perpetual right to the program,” he explained, adding that there has been some case law in Arkansas where the state has had issues ending programs that are entitlements.
“We want to protect ourselves at some future point,” he said.

They want to protect themselves from their voting base which is allergic to the word "entitlement" is more like it. As Klein points out, the program meets the definition of entitlement: “a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group.” In this case, the specified group is actually two groups: the Medicaid-eligible population, and the insurance companies that are going to be raking in their government-subsidized premiums.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 06:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by State & Local ACTION Group.

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