Forbes Magazine’s Josh Archambault wrote recently about the trouble the hospitals in Arkansas are having getting their grubby hands on more taxpayer dollars. You can read it here. His story centers around how a popular and powerful Republican legislator, the architect of Medicaid expansion in Arkansas, was just crushed in his bid for re-election by an upstart, no-name.
Now keep in mind that this just-defeated so-called “conservative” didn’t support Medicaid expansion by that name. He authored an alternative expansion that has come to be known as “Private Option.” This “Private Option” was merely the theft of the Arkansas taxpayers’ earnings, wrapped up in all manner of free market double-speak and then handed with a bow on it to the usual health care cronies. The great news is that the people in Arkansas saw this as a fraud in a package, a “pig in a blanket,” if you will.
It is also important to point out that the corporate healthcare cronies didn’t care about the justification or arguments used to deliver more taxpayer money to them. They just wanted the money. Unable to secure straight-up Medicaid expansion, they turned to the Republicans who were up to the task of renaming this theft in return for the financial support of the big hospitals among others. The real money came in when, as Mr. Archambault cleverly states, “legislators publicly traded their votes.”
Permit me to digress for a moment. The appearance of nicotine by vapor rather than cigarette delivery has unmasked another fraud in a package, a comparison I cannot resist. Rather than celebrate this new lung-sparing development, state governments are scrambling to regulate and tax the vapor devices. Is it possible that the rabid anti-smoking campaign provided a justification for an incredibly high tax on cigarettes, a tax which has produced revenue upon which state governments now depend? No other explanation holds water, for if state bureaucrats really cared about our health they would subsidize the non-burning delivery of nicotine, utilizing this new delivery method to save future cigarette-burned lungs. Very simply, state budgets can’t stand for people to quit smoking taxed cigarettes unless this revenue is somehow replaced. The lungs mean little, the money everything. Similarly, the sick poor were never the intended beneficiary of Arkansas’ Private Option. The cronies benefitting from this loot always were.
The strategy of creating a weigh station decoy for the Medicaid loot on its way to its normal crony destination didn’t work. These schemes are actually easy to comprehend if you first identify that someone’s property was taken from them by force and then seek to identify the beneficiary of this theft. More and more people simply don’t care what the mugger (government) intends to do with their money. People are focused on the fact that they have been mugged and when they suspect that their “representative” is driving the getaway car for his crony pals, his political career is jeopardized if not finished.
Hats off to the folks in Arkansas who threw this bum out. Others who followed his corrupt lead are likely to meet the same political fate and deservedly so. The “state” is likely the most corrupting device ever invented by man and a regular repudiation of those with political power is a healthy thing, indeed.
G. Keith Smith, M.D.